Gene Cernan, the last human to walk on the moon, will become the first astronaut to be buried at the Texas State Cemetery in East Austin, officials said Tuesday.
Cernan, who died at a Houston hospital Monday after ongoing health issues at age 82, will be buried with full military honors during a private service Jan. 25, said Harry Bradley, cemetery superintendent.
“He was a strong Texan,” family spokeswoman Melissa Wren said Tuesday. “It was important for him to remain in Texas to be close to family who could come visit him.”
The state cemetery has served as the resting place for many governors, judges, lawmakers and other notable Texans, including Gov. John Connally and Stephen F. Austin. Last fall, former President George W. Bush announced that he will be the first president to be buried there.
While the funeral services for Cernan will be private, NASA will be coordinating a video livestream for the public. Details will be announced soon, Wren said Tuesday.
After two previous space missions, the Apollo 17 commander and retired naval officer became the last person to walk on the moon in December 1972. Before Cernan returned to Earth, he drew his daughter’s initials on the moon’s surface. Cernan, a U.S. Space Hall of Fame inductee, authored a book, “The Last Man on the Moon,” and was featured in a documentary with the same name.
“Even at the age of 82, Gene was passionate about sharing his desire to see the continued human exploration of space and encouraged our nation’s leaders and young people to not let him remain the last man to walk on the moon,” the family said in a statement issued by NASA.
“Truly, America has lost a patriot and pioneer who helped shape our country’s bold ambitions to do things that humankind had never before achieved,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
Cernan is survived by his wife, Jan Nanna Cernan, his daughter and son-in-law, Tracy Cernan Woolie and Marion Woolie, step-daughters Kelly Nanna Taff and husband, Michael, and Danielle Nanna Ellis and nine grandchildren. Sign Cernan’s guest book online at geohlewis.com.