Lee A. Becker

Lee A. Becker, associate professor of computer science, passed away on Saturday, July 24, 2004, at the age of 57 after a 14-month battle with leukemia. Lee joined the WPI faculty in 1984, and was granted tenure in 1988. He earned a B.A. and Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Illinois, and an M.S. in computer science from Indiana University. He is survived by his wife Ying, son Joshua, daughter Rachel and many devoted friends and colleagues. A resolution of the WPI faculty follows.

 The Faculty of Worcester Polytechnic Institute notes with deep sadness and a great sense of loss the passing of our friend and colleague Lee A. Becker. His contributions to the WPI community will live on in the hearts and minds of the many people whose lives he touched.

Professor Becker had an unusual background for a computer scientist, earning a Ph.D. from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Slavic Languages, followed by an M.S. in Computer Science from Indiana University. These interests came together in his research, which early on involved computer languages, language learning, and computer-aided linguistic analysis. Later, his research broadened to encompass artificial intelligence, machine learning, agent-based systems, and evolutionary algorithms.

Lee was a key member of the WPI Computer Science Department, teaching a wide variety of courses in programming, languages, and artificial intelligence, helping lead the AI Research Group, and serving the CS Department for many years as Associate Department Head. He also had many collaborations with colleagues in other departments, applying AI techniques to a range of problems for government and industry.

Lee was a beloved colleague, friend, and teacher. A dedicated scholar and educator, Lee cared passionately about WPI. He greatly enjoyed working with students, involving undergraduate and graduate students in his research. Lee spent many rewarding terms advising student projects at project centers located in Washington D.C., Venice, London, Silicon Valley, and Copenhagen.

Lee was devoted to his family, shared his great smile with everyone, played a mean game of chess, and ran a marathon. Lee had a passion for food, tennis, dogs, cycling and Slavic linguistics. He truly embodied the Renaissance ideal.

Therefore, it is resolved that we, the Faculty of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, express our lasting gratitude and admiration for Lee Becker's dedication and outstanding service to our university, and that this resolution be inscribed on the permanent records of Worcester Polytechnic Institute as a memorial to our colleague, teacher, and friend, and that a copy of this resolution be delivered to the family of Lee Becker to evidence our admiration for him and our sorrow at his passing.

- A Resolution of the WPI Faculty, passed September 9, 2004


In lieu of flowers, gifts in Lee's memory may be made to:

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

1311 Mamaroneck Ave.
White Plains, NY 10605
Attn: Office of Donor Services

Hem-Onc Leukemia Fund BIDMC

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Rabb 430
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215

or directed to WPI in support of the Projects Program at:

The Lee Becker Memorial Fund

c/o WPI Development Office
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
100 Institute Road
Worcester, MA 01609-2280

Bernard H. "Bernie" Brown

Bernie Brown, vice president for student affairs and a tireless advocate for students and student life at WPI for nearly four decades, died July 12, 2004 after a short illness. Bernie joined WPI in 1966 as assistant dean of students. He was promoted to associate dean of students in 1971 and dean of students a decade later. In 1985, he was named vice president for student affairs, a post he held, with the exception for a two-year post as associate provost for student affairs, until his death. He is survived by his wife, Gayle, a son, two daughters, and a grandchild. A memorial service was held to remember Bernie on Wednesday, September 8 in Alden Memorial. A resolution of the WPI faculty follows.

We, the faculty of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, note with sorrow and a great sense of loss, the passing of our friend and colleague, Bernard H. Brown.

Since coming to WPI in 1966, Bernard H. Brown played a major role in improving every part of student life on campus, serving as a tireless advocate for students and student life. As Vice President of Student Affairs, he served the needs of students in a compassionate, effective, and supportive manner. Many will remember him most fondly as a tireless and effective advocate for women and for international and under-represented students. He was an enthusiastic fan of all of WPI's athletic teams, and he championed the elevation of men's and women's crew to varsity status. He provided the vision for our highly successful Rubin Campus Center. He was also the inspiration behind the soon to be constructed Admissions and Financial Aid building on campus.

To his many friends and colleagues among the faculty, the student body, and WPI's thousands of graduates, "Bernie" Brown will always be remembered for his quick wit and warm presence, for his kind words and smiles at happy times like reunions as well as for his consolation and support during times of personal need and loss. Through his never-tiring energy throughout the day to his hosting innumerable events at his home in the evenings, Bernie embodied the spirit of how to make better and richer the community he lived in.

Therefore, let it be resolved that we, the members of the faculty of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, express our sincere gratitude and admiration for Bernard H. Brown's outstanding service to our university, to its students, and to his community. Let it also be resolved that this resolution be placed in the permanent records of this faculty, and that a copy be delivered to his family.

- A Resolution of the WPI Faculty, passed September 9, 2004


At the request of the family, donations may be made in Bernie's memory to:

WPI Crew Endowment Fund

c/o the Development Office
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
100 Institute Road
Worcester, MA, 01609-2280


Joe Gale

John J.B. "Joe" Gale, who retired in 2000 after 54 years as a member of the WPI staff, died on May 24, 2004, after a long illness. He was hired by WPI (where his grandfather, father and two uncles had also worked) in 1946, just after he returned from four years in the Army during World War II. At WPI, Gale started as a groundskeeper, but quickly moved over to become a laboratory technician in the Mechanical Engineering Department, where he learned to weld from the late professor Carl G. Johnson. Over the years, Gale returned the favor by teaching hundreds of WPI students to weld with a gentle, patient style that made him one of the most beloved members of the university staff. Gale also taught general machine shop operations and casting.

Outside of the classroom, Gale was a constant presence at WPI athletic events. He managed the press box for all home football games and was the facility coordinator for Harrington Auditorium and Alumni Gym during home basketball and wrestling contests. Over his long WPI career, he worked for nine WPI presidents and saw the student body grow from about 300 to over 2,700. In 1971, WPI students demonstrated their affection to Gale by inducting him into Skull, the senior honorary society. WPI paid tribute to him by presenting him with the second William R. Grogan Award for extraordinary service to the university. The athletic department honored Gale in 1990 with the Frank C. Harrington Award, given to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to intercollegiate athletics at WPI, and by presenting him with the game ball from the 27-24 football victory over Coast Guard at Homecoming in 2000.

"To call Joe Gale a fixture at WPI, while accurate, doesn't do the man justice," the WPI Journal noted in a 1996 story. "He is a living, breathing part of the fabric of the institution." In a letter to the editor in response to that article, Howard Pritz '58 noted simply, "Some people make a lasting impression, regardless of their position." Few people in WPI's 139-year history have made an impression as profound or as lasting as Joe Gale.

Memorial donations may be made to the American Cancer Society, 30 Speen Street, Framingham, Mass. 01701.

K. Keshavan

Krishnaswamiengar Keshavan, former professor of civil and environmental engineering at WPI, died Dec. 25, 2004, after a long illness. Keshavan joined the WPI faculty in 1967 and taught here for 31 years, retiring in 1998 at the age of 69. During that time, he served two five-year terms (between 1976 and 1986) as head of the Civil Engineering Department.

An accomplished civil engineer, he received his bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from the National Institute of Engineering in Mysore, India. He went on to earn a master's degree in civil engineering from the State University of Iowa in 1960 and a doctorate in civil engineering from Cornell University in 1963.

Before coming to WPI, Keshavan taught for four years as a professor of civil engineering at the University of Maine in Orono. He also worked as a consultant with UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) during the 1970s and spent a year as director of environmental engineering at the University of Philippines from 1975 to 1976. As part of his work with UNESCO, he traveled the world extensively.

Keshavan possessed a curious mind and loved education and science, particularly physics and the study of the universe. He was a strong proponent of women in the sciences. He is survived by his wife, three children (all graduates of WPI), and six grandchildren.

Memorial donations be made to the Stevens Johnson Syndrome Foundation, P.O. Box 350333, Westminster, CO 80035-0333. Donations may also be made online at http://www.sjsupport.org/.

Pauline J. Lamarche

Pauline Lamarche, former principal of the Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science at WPI, died Thursday, Sept,. 2, after a short illness. Lamarche joined the academy as a computer science teacher in 1993. She was the first professional hired for the academy, which was established in 1992, and was the senior member of the academy community. In 2000 she become the academy's full-time principal, a position she held until her retirement in 2002. She devoted her enormous energy in the early years of the academy to shaping the team- and project-based program that distinguishes the junior year of study. As teacher and principal, she worked tirelessly to support the academy's academic and social programs. She was friend and advisor to hundreds of academy students, and she supported with great energy and enthusiasm the mission of the academy and its teachers for over a decade.

Gregory E. Reeves '07

Gregory E. Reeves, 19, of Maple Street, Townsend, Mass., died Monday, August 30, 2004, from injuries received after being struck while jogging near the campus.

Greg was born in Concord, March 3, 1985, a son of William E. and Debra M. (Boutwell) Reeves and resided most of his life in Townsend.

Besides his parents, William E. and Debra M. (Boutwell) Reeves of Townsend, he is survived by two brothers and a sister in law; William N. and Pamela Reeves of Ashby, Andrew Reeves of Townsend, a sister and brother in law; Jennifer D. and Carl Amadon of Ashby, his paternal grandparents; Edward A. and Carol Reeves of Bridgton, ME, his maternal grandparents; Patricia and Edward Wallace of Pepperell, his girlfriend; Danielle Leone of Townsend. He also leaves several aunts, uncles, a niece and 6 nephews. He was predeceased by his paternal grandmother; Dorothy Reeves, and maternal grandfather; Dwight Boutwell.

Reeves was a 2003 graduate of North Middlesex Regional High School in Townsend where he excelled in track events and was a team captain during his senior year. He was a member of the National Honor Society, the Math Team, and played the saxophone in both the marching and concert bands.

He was instrumental in the development of a program that taught middle school students to play the board game, "Scrabble", in order to improve vocabulary and spelling skills. During his senior year, he was presented with the Worcester Telegram & Gazette Student Achievement Award.

Here at WPI, he majored in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Biotechnology. He was enrolled in the U.S. Army ROTC Program and was also a member of the WPI Crew Team.

Greg was an active member of the Townsend Congregational Church where he was a member of the Youth Fellowship Program, the Agape Bell Choir and served as a Junior Deacon.

During recent summers, Greg worked at the Town of Townsend Landfill Center. Greg enjoyed spending time with family and friends. Greg also enjoyed the outdoors, bowling and reading.


Memorial donations be made to the Gregory E. Reeves Scholarship Fund, c/o North Middlesex Regional High School Scholarship Foundation, P.O. Box 715, Townsend, MA 01469.

Message from the President

President Dennis D. Berkey issued this statement following Reeves' death.

Sev Ritchie

Severin "Sev" Ritchie II, a technician in WPI's Physics Department for 41 years, died Sept. 7, 2004. "He was a highly skilled machinist, but also a fine teacher for many generations of WPI students - many of them not physics majors," notes Tom Keil, professor of physics, who was head of the department from 1993-94 to 2003-04. "There are still many individuals at WPI who experienced Sev's magic touch."

Born in New York City, Ritchie graduated from Bartlett High School in Webster, Mass., in 1950. He then served in the Navy during the Korean War, returning on the U.S.S. Worcester. He spent two years at General Motors Training School in Flint, Mich., and joined the WPI staff in 1959. He retired in 2000. He was a member of Skull, WPI's senior honorary society.

He leaves his wife of 49 years, Joan (Courtney) Ritchie; two daughters, a son, two sisters, and eight grandchildren. Another daughter died in 1986. Donations may be made to the Visiting Nurse Association of SWC, P.O. Box 368, Webster, MA 01570.

Robert Taylor

Robert (Bobby) Taylor, lead technician in WPI's Mechanical Engineering Department. died Dec. 23, 2004. Taylor worked at WPI for 37 years and was well known for his involvement with the university's SAE Race Team, Autocross Club, and Wireless Association (the ham radio organization dates to 1909; Taylor was proud of the fact that WPI's was the first operational college radio station in the United States). "These are only of few of the things he did, usually beyond the call of duty, to enrich the experience of our students," notes Department Head Gretar Tryggvason. "We will all miss him."

Taylor joined WPI after graduating from Worcester Boys Trade High School. An amateur radio operator and enthusiast for many years (his call sign was "W1CE," formerly "NA1Q"), he was a former FCC License Examiner. In addition to being a longtime member of and advisor to the WPI Wireless Association, he was a member of the Boston Athletic Association, Blue Knights of Worcester, and Skull, WPI's senior honorary society. In Hubbardston, Mass., where he lived for 33 years, he was a former civil defense coordinator and a member of the Emergency Management Committee and Board of Health. His passions included motorcycling, snowmobiling, and drag racing.

"We will be always thankful for his years of contribution and service to the WPI Wireless Association and its members both past and present," noted association president Michael Kastanas '05 on the association's Web site. "We are thankful that we knew such a great man and we will never forget what he taught us."

Taylor leaves his wife of 33 years, Susan B. (Brown) Taylor; two daughters, Karen L. Taylor of Worcester and Cheryl A. Cleary of Dudley; his father, Marland E. Taylor of Worcester; a sister, Barbara Reynolds of Worcester; a nephew and several nieces.

Memorial donations may be made to the Hubbardston Fire Department, Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 490, Hubbardston, MA 01452.

  • Email a Friend
  • Bookmark this Page
  • Share this Page