Donald A. Quarles was the fourth secretary of the Air Force.
He was born in Van Buren, Ark. in 1894. After completing high school, he enrolled in the University of Missouri Summer School at Columbia in 1910, 1911 and 1912, teaching mathematics in the Van Buren High School during the intervening seasons. Entering Yale University in 1912, he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 1916. He enlisted in the Army in May 1917, served two years in France and Germany, and was discharged with the rank of captain in the Field Artillery.
Employed as an engineer by the Western Electric Company during 1920 and 1921, Quarles studied theoretical physics as a part-time student at Columbia. Joining the Inspection Engineering Department of Western Electric in 1924 (which became Bell Telephone Laboratories the following year), four years later, he was in the Outside Plant Development Department, being placed in charge of this department the following year.
From 1940 to 1944, Quarles was director of the Transmission Development Department of Bell Telephone Laboratories which concentrated on military electronic systems, particularly radar. He was then appointed director of Apparatus Development, and in 1946, also became a member of the newly-established Department of Defense Committee on Electronics of the Joint Research and Development Board and in 1949, he was named chairman.
In 1948, Quarles was designated vice president of Bell Telephone Laboratories. He was made vice president of Western Electric and president of Sandia Corporation, a Western Electric subsidiary which operates the Sandia Laboratory in Albuquerque, N.M., for the Atomic Energy Commission, on March 1, 1952.
On Oct. 1, 1953, he was appointed assistant secretary of defense (research and development). Selected jointly by the secretaries of defense and commerce to be the first chairman of the reorganized Air Navigation Development Board in January 1954. Two months later, the president appointed Quarles a member of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.
Quarles was given an interim appointment as secretary of the Air Force by President Eisenhower Aug. 11, 1955, sworn into office Aug. 15, 1955, and confirmed by the Senate Feb. 16, 1956. He died in Washington, D.C. in 1959.