Esther Edgerton, widow of MIT Professor Harold E. "Doc" Edgerton, died last Saturday (March 9) at the home of her granddaughter, Janice Dixon Key, in Charleston, S.C., where she lived for the last four years. She was 98 years old.
An open house, hosted by Professor J. Kim Vandiver, will be held at the MIT Edgerton Center, Room 4-405, on Saturday, March 16 from 3:30 to 6 p.m. following the funeral service at Payson Park Church in Belmont. Interment will be at Mount Auburn Cemetery.
Edgerton, the former Esther May Garrett, was born in Hamilton County, Neb. on Sept. 8, 1903. She received a bachelor's degree in mathematics, music and education from the University of Nebraska, also her husband's alma mater. A skilled pianist and singer, she attended the New England Conservatory of Music and taught in public schools in Aurora, Neb. and Boston.
Edgerton was active in the International Chapter P.E.O. Sisterhood for 74 years. She was a member of the Payson Park Church in Belmont and the MIT Matrons.
The Edgertons, longtime residents of Belmont and Cambridge, established the Edgerton Research Vessel at the New England Aquarium and endowed the Edgerton House dormitory and several scholarships and chairmanships at MIT. Natives of Nebraska, they also funded the Edgerton Explorit Center in Aurora, Neb.
Along with the Germeshausens and Griers, the Edgertons funded the EG&G Education Center (Building 34) at MIT and Mrs. Edgerton sponsored exhibits at Boston Museum of Science with Polly Germeshausen. Professor Edgerton, a pioneer in strobe photography and underwater photography, was co-founder of the electronic technology firm Edgerton, Germeshausen and Grier Inc.
Edgerton is survived by a son, Robert Frank Edgerton of Seattle, seven grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. Professor Edgerton died in 1990. A son, William Eugene Edgerton, and a daughter, Mary Louise Edgerton Dixon, have also died.
Donations honoring Mrs. Edgerton may be made to the Esther Garrett Edgerton Scholarship Fund, PEO Foundation, 3700 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA 50312-2899, (515) 255-3153.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 13, 2002.