Richard A. MacKinnon

[Please click here to read the eulogy by Dick’s brother, Bill.]

Dick MacKinnon died on January 23, 2023 at North Hill, Needham, MA at the age of 84. He and his wife, Pat (Patricia Moorhead), moved to North Hill in 2017 after 47 years in Sherborn, MA, where they raised their family. Dick was born December 10, 1938, followed closely by his identical twin, William (Bill). Together they experienced the uniqueness of twindom, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout, attending the same schools and sharing mutual interests through graduate school.  Thereafter, employment and marriage took them down divergent trails with Dick a lifelong resident of Massachusetts and Bill a migrant to New York, Michigan and California.

Dick and his unexpected twin were born into a GE family in Schenectady, NY in 1938. They were surrounded by older siblings — brother Robert and two sisters, Lois MacKinnon Davis and Jean MacKinnon Rogers.  Their father Harold A. MacKinnon was a “GE-lifer,” starting in 1922 at age 19 after graduating from Bentley School of Accounting in Boston; their mother Mary E. MacKinnon reveled and excelled in her role as professional “Mom.” She held the family together as her husband rose to high positions in GE’s financial and manufacturing enclaves.  The MacKinnons were not a typical GE family, moving only once to Fort Wayne, Indiana when Harold became a corporate vice president and a divisional manager of what became GE’s most profitable division. Dick maintained a life-long interest in Schenectady, giving much credit to the impact of its excellent school system and the challenging environment during and after WWII.

Dick graduated cum laude from the Mount Hermon School; magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University {where he was in the Yale Glee Club}; and with an MBA from Harvard Business School. A summer job led Dick to join IBM in a series of field support and management jobs before settling in as director of IBM’s Cambridge Scientific Center, site of the invention of the virtual machine. Dick remained in that position for 18 years, retiring in 1992 as IBM’s longest-tenured laboratory director and the only one without a PhD. Under Dick’s leadership, the Cambridge lab made major contributions to the development of timesharing and the IBM Personal Computer. MIT recognized this and IBM allowed Dick to accept a teaching position there; he taught operating systems for 18 years, adding teaching stints at Harvard College; Boston University; University of Maine, Orono; and Bentley College.

When Dick retired from IBM and MIT, he joined Bill in his consulting boutique, MacKinnon Associates, as chief scientist. He retired permanently in 2002 but remained active at Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary, serving as a board director and director emeritus.

Dick and Pat married in 1965 and are proudest of their family. Son Bruce MacKinnon and his wife Laura Brown MacKinnon live in Wellesley, MA, with their two children, Henry and Isabella. Daughter Carol MacKinnon Fox works in New York City, residing there as well as in Saranac Lake, NY, with her partner Phil Brown.

Dick’s ashes will join those of Iris and Jack Moorhead, Pat’s parents, in the Memorial Garden at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Wellesley. The MacKinnon family invites you to join the memorial service at St. Andrew’s {79 Denton Road} on Saturday, February 4 at 1pm followed by a reception at North Hill, Needham. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a gift to St. Andrew’s Endowment Fund.