Austin of meteorology is dead at 85


Professor Emeritus of Meterology James M. Austin, a resident of Concord, died on November 26. He was 85.

Born in Dunedin, New Zealand, Professor Austin graduated from Otago University in 1935 and received a master's degree in mathematics from the University of New Zealand in 1936 and the ScD in meterology from MIT in 1941. He was a professor of meteorology at MIT from 1941-83. He was also the first director of MIT's Summer Session, holding that position from 1956-83. Professor Austin was also a member of the MIT Athletic Board, arranging practice locations for the fledgling golf team. He retired as a full-time faculty member in 1979.

As a forecaster during World War II, he served as a consultant to the US Army Air Force weather service in Europe. His forecasting work was a factor in the decisions on the final bombardment of Cherbourg, France and the D-Day landing of airborne troops, as well as the movement of advance mobile weather stations across northern France. In 1946, President Truman awarded him the Medal of Freedom for his civilian wartime service.

Professor Austin was noted for his pioneering modeling of the meterology of air pollution, especially that of smokestack particulates. He consulted for major power companies in the nation's first efforts to control pollution from energy-generating plants. He also brought meterology into homes in eastern Massachusetts. On June 9, 1948, he launched a nightly weather forecast on WBZ-TV, the first television program broadcast live from Boston.

Professor Austin was a former secretary of the American Meteorological Society and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Dr. Pauline Morrow Austin, who for years directed the MIT Weather Radar project; two daughters, Doris A. Price of Annapolis, MD and Carol T. West of Gainesville, FL; and two grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Concord Land Conservation Trust, P.O. Box 141, Concord, MA 01742.

Other obituaries

Susan F. Baird of Sunnyvale, CA, a former senior secretary in the Department of Mathematics, died on September 29 at the age of 89. She retired from MIT in 1977 after working here for 18 years. Names of survivors were unavailable.

Charles W. Cahalane of Franklin, MA died on October 29 at age 76. Mr. Cahalane was hired in 1954 and retired as a member of Lincoln Lab's administrative staff in 1988. Names of survivors were not available.

Robert MacGillivray of Framing-ham, a former guard at Draper Lab, died on November 15 at the age of 95. He was hired in 1945 and retired in 1970. Names of survivors were unavailable.

A funeral Mass was said on November 22 in St. Mary's Church in Waltham for Marie Philips of Waltham, who died on November 17 at age 75. Ms. Philips began working at Lincoln Laboratory in 1955 and was an administrative assistant when she retired in 1982. She was deeply involved in regional theater and was a longtime member and past president of the MIT Community Players.

Ms. Philips was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Waltham. She leaves a sister, Genevieve C. Luneau of Center Harbor, NH.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 6, 2000.


Topics: Obituaries

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