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Robert Wilkinson, of Draper, at 79

Robert Haydn Wilkinson Sr., a scientist at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratories for nearly 30 years, died at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston on Saturday, May 7, from complications due to diabetes. He was 79.

Born and raised in England, Wilkinson received the S.B. degree in electrical engineering from the University of London in 1948, the S.M. degree in electrical engineering from Syracuse University in 1960, and the Ph.D. degree in astronautical engineering from MIT in 1965.

Wilkinson published numerous papers and articles in the field of aerospace engineering. After retirement, he founded his own business, A. Boffin Inc., in Newton, Mass., which provided technical services to high-tech engineering firms.

In 1955 Wilkinson married an educator granted the Order of Distinction in Jamaica. They were actively involved in the MIT Hosts for International Students Program for many years, hosting international students coming to study at MIT from all corners of the globe.

A humanitarian, Wilkinson was a steadfast supporter and defender of numerous charitable causes, most notably human rights, disability support, disease research and international humanitarian aid.

Wilkinson is survived by his wife, Doreen; four children, Michael, John, Kathleen and Robert Jr. (S.B. 1992); and four grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. at the MIT Chapel on Saturday, May 14. A reception will be held next door to the chapel, immediately following the service from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

Charitable donations, in Wilkinson's name, may be given to Amnesty International.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 11, 2005 (download PDF).

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