Skip to content ↓

MIT Professor Emeritus, Civic Leader, Author and State Rep Dies at 83

Professor of History Emeritus Thomas H.D. Mahoney, 83, died in Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, CA, on April 21 after suffering a stroke while on a return trip from Seoul, Korea, where he addressed the 97th Interparliamentary Union conference.

Professor Mahoney, who earned the BA and MA from Boston College and the PhD from George Washington University, came to MIT in 1945 as a history instructor. He was promoted to professor in 1961 and served as chair of history from 1963-65 and 1977-79. He also taught at Boston College, Holy Cross, Smith College, Wellesley College and the University of Southern California.

In addition to his teaching career, Professor Mahoney ran for office 11 times, winning every election. He represented Cambridge in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1971-78 until his district was merged with one represented by former House Speaker Charles F. Flaherty. He also was a member of the Cambridge School Committee and the Cambridge City Council.

In 1979, Gov. Edward F. King appointed him Secretary of Elder Affairs and he served for four years. He earned the MA and PhD in public administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government at age 75.

Besides public office, Professor Mahoney served on the board of trustees of the Cambridge Public Library from 1948-54 and the Cambridge Planning Board from 1960-64. He was the chair of the Cambridge Unity Committee and president of the Cambridge Research Assn. He served on the board of Cardinal Cushing College and was a member of the corporation of Mt. Auburn Hospital. He also served on the Massachusetts State Library Board and the Massachusetts State Fulbright Committee.

Professor Mahoney, an expert on Edmund Burke, wrote Edmund Burke and Ireland (Harvard University Press, 1960) and edited two books of the 18th-century British statesman's speeches and essays. Professor Mahoney also wrote many articles on Mr. Burke.

He co-authored China, Japan and the Powers (Ronald Press, 1960) and maintained an active interest in Asian affairs. He visited the People's Republic of China recently and spoke with high government officials, including Jiang Zemin, hand-picked successor to Deng Xiaoping as China's paramount leader upon Deng's death.

In addition to his scholarly and civic pursuits, Professor Mahoney was an avid golfer who had at least four holes in one to his credit.

He is survived by his wife of 45 years, K. Phyllis (Norton); four sons, Thomas of New York, David of San Francisco, Peter of Newton, and Philip of Los Altos Hills, CA, and one daughter, Linda of Cambridge.

Related Topics

More MIT News