John A. Hrones, 87, of Sarasota, FL and Jaffrey, NH, an alumnus and former MIT faculty member, died June 14 of brain cancer.
After graduating from MIT in 1934, he was an instructor in mechanical engineering while working toward his master's degree, then became an assistant professor in 1941 and received the PhD in 1942.
During World War II, Dr. Hrones worked on the automatic positioning of gun mounts at the MIT Servo-mechanisms Laboratory. In 1944, he joined the Draper Instrumentation Laboratory to work on the A-1 bombsight for the Army Air Corps. He helped create the DEW line to detect enemy planes flying toward the US over Canada and played a role in designing an automatic control device for a new aircraft engine for Chrysler Corp. After the war, he helped develop the first power brakes for Chrysler in the 1950s.
Dr. Hrones became an associate professor in 1945 and full professor in 1948. He headed the Machine Design Division, and was director of the Dynamic Analysis and Control Laboratory. He was named provost at Case Institute in 1964 and served in that capacity at Case-Western Reserve from 1967-76.
Professor Hrones was a member of the MIT Alumni Club of Southwest Florida for more than 20 years and served as its president from 1985-91 and 1993-99. He also was president of the Class of 1934 from 1989-99 and a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors from 1993-95. He was awarded the Bronze Beaver award in 1992, the highest honor bestowed by the Alumni Association.
Professor Hrones is survived by two daughters, Janet Roach of Waldron Island, WA, and Mary Parsons of Ann Arbor, MI; two sons, Stephen of Concord and John Anthony Jr. of Needham; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His wife of 53 years, the former Margaret Baylis, died in 1991.
A memorial service will be held on August 12 at 2pm at the First Church in Jaffrey Center, NH. Memorial contributions may be made to the John Hrones Scholarship Fund, MIT Alumni Association, 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139. The fund will support scholarships for needy students from Boston.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 9, 2000.