Services were held Friday, Jan. 3, in the First Congregational Church of Winchester for Lawrence E. Beckley, an MIT alumnus and executive officer of MIT's Center for Space Research until his retirement in 1978.
Mr. Beckley died December 30 at Youville Hospital, Cambridge. He was 75 and lived in Winchester.
He received the SB in aeronautical engineering in 1942 and served as a Navy officer in Washington, administering research contracts, during World War II.
Returning to MIT in 1946, Mr. Beckley held various administrative and management positions with the Aerolastic Research Laboratory, Instrumentation Laboratory and Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics before helping establish the Center for Space Research in 1963.
Some of Mr. Beckley's contributions to the center were enumerated at the funeral service in a eulogy by Joseph H. Binsack, associate director.
"Larry Beckley, Jack Harrington of the Lincoln Laboratory and a small handful of others were the original promoters of a Center for Space Research at MIT," he said. "NASA asked MIT to form the center in 1963 and Larry served as its first administrative officer. . . responsible for all the personnel, proposals, property and physical space requirements for the fledging organization and its first projects.
"During its first years, the center was responsible for administering several millions of dollars to sponsor seed research in the space science and engineering fields. Many of these took root and became the mainstay of not only MIT's but also the nation's involvement in future space research projects."
Mr. Binsack said that Mr. Beckley also had a major role in the design and construction of the center's new building between 1966 and 1968. In 1973 he was appointed the center`s assistant director, Mr. Binsack said, "in recognition of its growing needs and Larry's role in guiding it."
Mr. Beckley was not a scientist, Mr. Binsack said, but his background in engineering "enabled him to understand the work of scientists and engineers, to see their needs and expectations. His expertise was to find the best way to achieve them within the administrative bureaucracies of government and MIT."
Mr. Beckley served on the Winchester School Committee in the 1960s. His interests included carving birds of basswood, leading Explorer Scouts on canoe trips to Moosehead Lake in Maine and hunting with bow and arrow.
He leaves his wife, Ruth (Manuel); four daughters, Marilyn E. of Syracuse, N.Y., Ruth McDowell of Winchester, Nancy of Arlington and Susan Burns of Chatham, N.Y.; a brother, William J. of New Jersey; a sister, Elizabeth Link of New Mexico; and seven grandchildren.
A version of this
article appeared in the
January 8, 1992
issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume