University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Edward Gilfix, Class of 1950

Edward Gilfix

Edward L. Gilfix was a loving father of three, grandfather of four, and devoted husband for 62 years. He had a Life Membership in the UMass Amherst Alumni Association. Raised in Dorchester, Massachusetts, he served among only 60,000 military personnel in the China, Burma, India Theater during World War II. The GI bill made possible his attendance at University of Massachusetts, then at Fort Devens, where he received a BS in Electrical Engineering with honors (subsequently inducted into the school’s first chapter of Tau Beta Pi in 1960), followed by a Masters at the University of Michigan in 1951. A creative visionary with problem-solving skills that permeated his home life, Edward’s career began as a Research Assistant at the Willow Run Research Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan and ended as a Principal Engineer and Manager of Information Systems at Raytheon Corporation’s Missile Systems Division in Bedford, Massachusetts. As documented by “Who’s Who in Technology” and “American Men and Women of Science”, his career spanned multi-discipline systems analysis, design, and documentation, including air defense and command and control systems.

His work at Chrysler Corporation from 1953-1955 paved the way for the first data processing center using an IBM mainframe. This led him to initiating and running customer and programmer training of “large scale electronic data processing equipment” at DATAmatic (renamed Honeywell EDP) for five years. As a Technical Staff Member at Mitre Corporation from 1962-1967, he studied command and mission navigation of tactical forces involving the US Strike Command and US Tactical Air Command. He spent nearly three decades at Raytheon at a time when corporate loyalty was highly valued, with numerous significant contributions including requirements definition for the Government’s AWACS -- Airborne Warning and Control System; specification and production of a microfilm storage and retrieval system for Marine/Navy military intelligence; and conceptual design and data processing requirements of HAWK and PATRIOT air defense tactical command and control systems. Perhaps his proudest accomplishment came near the end of his career and was non-military – a patented invention for automatic meter reading via powerline carrier communication.

A longtime resident of Lexington, Massachusetts, Edward died at age 91 of complications from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis on March 17, 2014. His family remembers him fondly as a humble, gracious, responsible, keenly inquisitive, and unwaveringly committed parent and husband. His intellectual drive was a cornerstone of his existence, balanced by his humor and ability to relate so well to people from different cultures and backgrounds. He was an avid audiophile, lover of opera, and talented photographer of work that included a recently discovered treasure chest of pictures he took during his military service, featuring the formal Japanese surrender to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek at the Central Military Academy in Nanking on September 9, 1945. Despite increasing mobility challenges from ALS, he retained his dignity, mental acumen, and positive view on life until the end.