Rolf R. Engler of Woburn, administrative officer for the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), died Nov. 17 at the age of 69 following a long illness. A celebration of his life will be held at MIT in the spring.
Engler, who was raised in Germany, came to the United States in 1957 and joined MIT in 1962 as a clerk in the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE); he was appointed as an accounting assistant in RLE in 1969. In 1971, he joined DUSP as an administrative assistant, and the next year was appointed administrative officer, a position he held until his death. Because of his fluency in German, Engler was sometimes asked to serve as a translator when dignitaries, including Germany's former chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, visited MIT. In 1997, he won the Institute's Gordon Y Billard Award for "special service of outstanding merit performed for the Institute."
In 2001, Engler was honored by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) with its Jay Chatterjee Award, given to "an individual who has performed exceptional service and whose actions and leadership have had a lasting impact on ACSP and its member schools." Engler had served as ACSP's bursar since 1973.
"He was passionate about this place and its people," said Professor Lawrence J. Vale, head of DUSP. "Over the more than three decades of service to our department, he touched the lives of countless faculty, students and staff. He was well-loved and will be sorely missed."
Before coming to MIT, Engler worked as a lumberjack in British Columbia and was a cabin steward for a steamship service running between Canada and Alaska. In 1957, he came to the United States and served in the U.S. Air Force.
In addition to his wife, Renate, Mr. Engler is survived by two sons, Stefan and Christian Engler (a senior secretary at the Sloan School), and a sister, Sigrid Gray of Augusta, Maine. Donations in his memory may be made to the American Cancer Society, 25 Stuart St., Boston, MA 02116; or Healthcare Dimensions Hospice, 764 Main St., Waltham, MA 02451.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 20, 2002.