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Luis Ferré, former governor and Corporation member

Luis Ferré
Luis Ferré
Photo courtesy / AP

Luis Alberto Ferré (S.B. 1924), former governor of Puerto Rico and a staunch advocate of statehood for the territory, died on Oct. 21 in a San Juan hospital of complications following surgery. He was 99.

A member of the assembly that wrote Puerto Rico's constitution in 1952, he founded the New Progressive Party in 1967 and served as governor from 1969 to 1973.

In addition to the S.B., Ferré earned the S.M. in 1925 in mechanical engineering. An accomplished classical pianist, he studied at the New England Conservatory of Music. He was chair of the Ponce Museum of Art.

Ferré joined the MIT Corporation in 1962, was elected a Life Member in 1975 and became a Life Member Emeritus in 1979. He served on several visiting committees and the Corporation Development Committee.

Ferré and his brother Herman (S.B. 1931) organized funding for the construction of la Sala de Puerto Rico in the Stratton Student Center in the early 1960s. A plaque that celebrates his contributions to MIT was unveiled in the Stratton Center in 1984.

"This extraordinary man will be long remembered by his many friends and associates here and around the globe," Chairman Dana G. Mead wrote to members of the Corporation on Oct. 22.

Ferré received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George H.W. Bush in 1984, the highest civil distinction given by the President of the United States.

Born on Feb. 17, 1904 in Ponce, Ferré was the grandson of a French engineer who helped build the Panama Canal before he settled in Cuba. Ferré's father, Antonio, moved to Puerto Rico and married Maria Aguayo Casals, a cousin of cellist Pablo Casals.

Ferré is survived by his wife, Tiody de Jesus; and two children, Antonio and Rosario Ferré. Burial was in Ponce on Oct. 23.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 29, 2003.

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