Obituary - Malcolm Parkinson - Class of 1960




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Tribute from daughter Hilary.

I am saddened to announce the passing of my father, Malcolm Parkinson, just a month before his 80th birthday. He died peacefully at home with his wife and children by his side after a year of treatments for stage 4 cancer.

My dad was born and raised in Northern Ireland. As a young man, he traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East. He even worked in a kibbutz in Israel, but got sunburned and finished out working in a carpenter’s shop in Nazareth. (He enjoyed retelling this story many, many times over the next few decades.)

He attended the Queen’s University in Belfast as an undergrad and a graduate student. His Doctoral dissertation was “An Expansion Method for Calculating Atomic Properties” and it earned him a PhD.

He came to America in 1966 to attend Princeton University where he shifted his focus to history of science.

While living in New Jersey, he met my mom, Ellen, fell in love, and married her in 1969. We celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2019 with a family trip to Santa Fe.

My dad spent almost his entire career as a professor teaching history of science at WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute). He loved the academic life and sharing his knowledge with undergraduates. We enjoyed going with him to stay in London while his students worked on projects at the Tower of London, Imperial War Museum, and other museums.

He also enjoyed many visits to the National Archives at College Park and abroad to research the development of camouflage in World War I.

He was President of the Higgins Armory Museum and served on the board for many years. He was President and also served on the board at Briarwood and was a member of the Worcester Torch Club.

My dad loved all things beautiful: art, writing, and architecture. He enjoyed traveling and visiting new places. He and my mom ventured to Japan for an amazing trip with my husband and me—but his favorite experience might have been discovering the French bakery in Kyoto!

One of my favorite times with my dad was celebrating his naturalization with a dinner at Old Europe in Washington, DC, in 2014. He announced that he was a new citizen to the room and received a round of applause!

My dad was supportive and proud of all the accomplishments and adventures of his daughter and his son, my brother, Ivan. He enjoyed talking with us and following our career and lives. He always took the time to support us in any way we needed, from driving us around to new apartments, meeting our friends, or just listening us work through the various problems that we faced as young people and new parents.

He was proud to be a grandfather to Natalie, Desmond, and Angus. (He was also delighted when we gave Desmond the middle name of Malcolm, carrying on the tradition from my brother who also bears his name!) He enjoyed giving his grandchildren new books on topics he knew they were interested in.

I could go on and on (and sometimes my dad did), but he was a person who found life enormously interesting, who was kind, who was pleased when he made my mom laugh too hard, and who loved to explore the world.

We are so lucky to have many, many wonderful memories with my father.

We will miss him so much.


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