Deceased June 22, 2021

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In Memory

Paul died from complications of prostate cancer on June 22. He prepared for Amherst at the Cranbrook School in Michigan. As an undergraduate, Paul was a physics major, ran cross-country, helped at the radio station, was active with the automobile association and was a proud member of Theta Xi. At Amherst, Paul was the guy with a pickup truck, seen driving spools of wire around and stringing them in the steam tunnels to improve radio reception across campus.

After Amherst, Paul earned a Sc.D. degree in electrical engineering from MIT. He then joined the MIT faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1960; he served as associate head from 1974 to 1978, and department head from 1989 to 1999. He was the Dugald C. Jackson Professor of Electrical Engineering from 2000 until his retirement in June 2005. Paul published five books and hundreds of articles. 

Paul loved spending time with multiple generations of Penfields at the family cottage on Lake George, N.Y. He was passionate about genealogy and built our family tree back to the 1600s. He became a North American fern expert and was a member of the American Fern Society and the Hardy Fern Foundation. He was a longtime member of the First Parish Church of Weston, Mass. He supported environmental organizations including the Lake George Land Conservancy, Nature Conservancy, Weston Forest and Trail Association, as well as the recently created MetroWest Climate Solutions Group. In recent years, he spearheaded development of the Rail Trail in Weston.  

After the memorial service for Paul on Aug. 21, there was a Second Line procession, led by the Hot Tamale Brass Band, from the church to the Weston Rail Trail.

Paul is survived by his two Amherst children and son Michael.

David Penfield ’79 and Patty Penfield Jonas ’82