John Lee Grasse, Longtime Engineer at L.A. Station KCOP-TV, Dies at 102

Karyn Grasse
John Lee Grasse

He designed a mobile studio to facilitate remote broadcasts.

John Lee Grasse, a longtime director of engineering and industrial relations at Los Angeles independent station KCOP-TV, died Dec. 27 at his home in Monterey Park, Calif., his daughter, Karyn, said. He was 102.

Grasse joined KCOP as a cameraman in 1950 when it operated under the call letters KLAC and spent three decades there.

At KCOP, he designed and had built what he called “a self-contained color TV station on wheels,” allowing for mobile broadcasting. Before that, his daughter noted, it took three tractor-trailers full of gear for a TV station to do a remote.

A native New Yorker, Grasse received a mining engineering degree from the Wisconsin School of Mines and then worked for Lockheed during most of the 1940s. He was one of the 28 engineers who designed the first U.S. fighter jet as part of the top-secret military project known as “Skunk Works.”

Services will be held Jan. 16 at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, Calif.