Lester J. Rose, a retired aeronautical engineer and World War II veteran, died Thursday of cancer at his home in Newport News, Va.

The former longtime Northeast Baltimore resident was 91.

Mr. Rose was born in Ashland, Wis. and raised in St. Paul, Minn., where he graduated from high school.

After graduating in 1943 from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering, he enlisted in the Army Air Force, serving as a navigator in the Pacific Theater aboard bombers.

After being discharged in 1946, he went to work at the old Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River as an aeronautical engineer

During his career at the Martin Co., later Martin Marietta Corp., he participated in the design of various aircraft and missiles built by the company, and later was technical director of flight planning and analysis for the successful Gemini launch vehicle program.

After the completion of the Gemini program in 1965, he moved to Peninsula, Va., as manager of Martin Marietta's regional marketing office, and in 1976 was appointed marketing manager of the company's Corporate Research Laboratories in Catonsville.

He retired from the company in 1979 and returned to Peninsula, Va., when he joinedNASA'sLangley Research Center and worked in the agency's technology transfer program.

Mr. Rose was an active member of the Air Force Association and served as president of the organization's Langley Chapter from 1971 to 1972, and again in 1983. He was the AFA's Virginia state president from 1974 to 1976.

He was awarded the AFA's Medal of Merit in 1973, and the Exceptional Service Award in 1983 and 1984. He also was presented the Jimmy Doolittle Fellowship Award.

Mr. Rose was a member of American Legion Post 368 and the Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society.

He was a communicant of St. Jerome Roman Catholic Church in Peninsula.

"His hobby was airplanes, but he did also like to golf," said his daughter, Patricia Cole of Baldwin.

Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Peninsula Memorial Park, 12750 Warwick Blvd., Newport News.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Rose is survived by his wife of 60 years, the former Dottie Osborne; a granddaughter; and three great-grandsons.