Jefferies was survived by his wife Mary Ann. Although his cause of death has not been released, he had been battling cancer.
He was known as a humble and talented man who never lost his temper, loved flying and was overwhelmed by the recognition shown for his work. His influence was aptly put by Penny Juday, who said "Perhaps not since the Wright Brothers has a flight so captured the imagination of the people."
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Jefferies' father was chief engineer at a power plant in Virginia. He had a younger brother named John who worked with him as his chief draftsman. He served in Europe in World War II, was inside of B-17, B-24, B-25 bombers and had four years as a flight test engineer. He was a member of the Aviation Space Writers' Association. Jefferies restored and flew period airplanes as a hobby. He owned a Waco aircraft and stored it at an airfield in California for many years.
Besides creating the Enterprise (interiors & exterior) and its shuttlecraft, Jefferies was responsible for designing props (including phasers), sets, and the Klingon logo and D-7 battle cruiser. Years later, his concept sketches were revisited and used to design the spaceship Enterprise, the Olympic class U.S.S. Pasteur, the Daedalus class, and pre-Federation Vulcan ships.
He had a very pragmatic design ethic.
Within the Star Trek universe, Jefferies tubes and Captain Jefferies are named in his honor.