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Mahoney of history 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 Uni-versity's John F. Kennedy School of Government at age 75.

After leaving state government, Professor Mahoney advised Florida Sen. Claude Pepper on international issues related to aging. In 1982, he embarked on a long relationship with the United Nations as an observer at the World Assembly on Aging in Vienna. In 1992, he co-authored a book published by the UN entitled Populations in the Context of Urbanization..

In addition to serving in public office, Professor Mahoney was 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 Association. He served on the board of Cardinal Cushing College and was a member of the corporation of Mt. Auburn Hospital. Professor Mahoney 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. He co-authored China, Japan and the Powers (Ronald Press, 1960) and maintained an active interest in Asian affairs. He recently visited the People's Republic of China 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, Katherine 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.



A funeral service was held on April 9 at the First Parish Church in Lincoln for William G. Langton, 81, of Lincoln, who died on April 5. He came to MIT and worked as a sponsored research staff member in the Francis Bitter National Magnet Lab and the Plasma Fusion Center until his retirement in 1984. He leaves his wife, Jane; three sons, Christopher of Santa Fe, NM, David of Brooklyn, NY, and Andrew of Lyon, France. Donations in his memory may be made to the First Parish Church, P.O. Box 6218, Lincoln, MA 01773.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 30, 1997.

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