Michele Evans, Lockheed Martin’s Executive Vice President of the Aeronautics segment, passed away on New Years Day after battling cancer for more than a year. She was 55.

“Throughout her career, Michele led some of the most important programs that ensure the security of our nation and its allies and help make our world a safer place,” James Taiclet, Lockheed Martin’s president and CEO, said in a statement last Saturday. “She embodied our company’s values in spirt and action every day, to do what’s right, respect others, and perform with excellence. Her example was an inspiration to those of us fortunate enough to have worked with her closely, and her leadership in the aerospace and defense industry will have a lasting impact for years to come. Our deepest sympathies go out to her family, the entire Lockheed Martin team, and everyone she touched in her remarkable life and career.”

Evans led Aeronautics since October 2018. Beginning Dec. 1, 2020, Evans took a leave of absence to deal with her health issues. She had been undergoing treatment for the past 18 months.

Gregory Ulmer, who oversees the F-35 fighter program for Lockheed Martin, was named acting head of Aeronautics effective Dec. 1, 2020. The company’s board hasn’t taken action on electing a successor to Evans.

Evans spent more than 34 years in the aerospace and defense industry and oversaw a number of programs at the Lockheed Martin’s Rotary and Mission Systems segment and also had responsibilities for the A-10 aircraft weapons systems, and avionics programs for the C-130 tactical airlifter and F-35.

Lockheed Martin said that Evans was also “actively involved” in the company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.

“She was a stalwart in the industry, shattering the ‘glass ceiling’ and positively impacting all those around her,” says Evans’ obituary. “Her personable nature, her attention to detail, and her unbridled work ethic were all characteristics that prompted her rise to the top. Beyond that, Evans will be remembered as a ‘giver.’ With a charitable heart and a benevolent soul, her impact will last many lifetimes. Through various initiatives Michele mentored hundreds of people around the globe, many of whom were first being introduced to STEM fields. She was a board member for Girls, Inc., empowering girls to strive toward intellect, strength, and boldness. She also served on the boards of Cheniere Energy (a leading pioneer in worldwide energy markets), the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, as well as the Clarkson University Coulter School of Engineering.”

Evans graduated high school in 1983 from Owego Free Academy in New York where she played field hockey, basketball, and track and field. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Clarkson Univ. in New York in 1987.

Evans is survived by her husband and two sons.