Deceased August 4, 2021

View alumni profile (log in required)

In Memory

Larry died peacefully at home on Aug. 4 after a yearlong illness. He attended Amherst (physics, ski team, Theta Xi) and MIT on a 3–2 plan. As a professor at MIT, he directed the Man Vehicle Laboratory, studying weightlessness and human adaptation to space, working closely with decades of NASA astronauts. He knew them all. At age 55, he trained (but did not fly) as a Space Shuttle mission specialist. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Larry enjoyed outdoor activities, especially white-water canoeing, skiing, ski racing, hiking and biking near his home in Waterville Valley, N.H. He worked on the Waterville Valley Ski Patrol for several decades, initially to defray the family’s ski costs but eventually developing a research program on ski safety. He served as the first chair of the Ski Safety Committee of ASTM: “I’m known for how to get healthy astronauts to Mars, but my real contribution to humanity is convincing insurance companies to allow ski brakes instead of those awful safety straps.”

The pedagogy Larry experienced at Amherst had a profound effect on his own teaching. He liked to relate how Professor Breusch came to Milliken infirmary to provide missed lectures so he wouldn’t fall behind. At Amherst, Larry made many close and dear friends among classmates and faculty, and it gave him great joy to reconnect with them through the decades. He was delighted to be able to share a chapter of his memoirs with classmates at the 2021 ’56 virtual class reunion.

Larry is survived by wife Vicki Goldberg; former wife Jody Williams; three children, Eliot ’84, Leslie and Robert; and five grandchildren, Joshua ’17, Evan ’19, Xander, David and Rachel.

Eliot Young ’84