John M. “Jack” Wozencraft died peacefully on August 31st 2009 at his home in Redmond WA. He was born in Dallas TX on September 30th 1925. Jack was an accomplished scientist, a loving husband, and a dedicated father. He is survived by his wife Fran, their three children John, Colin, and Katie, and two grandchildren.
Jack graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1946 and served in the Army Signal Corps for fourteen years. He later pursued graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned his doctoral degree in electrical engineering before joining the faculty. In addition to teaching and research, he authored numerous articles, consulted for the MIT Lincoln Laboratories and the Defense Communications Agency, and was appointed to the President’s Science Advisory Council. He is most recognized for his work in sequential decoding, which enabled the development of modern strategies used by the Internet, cellular phones, and deep-space transmissions. His 1967 book co-authored with Irwin Jacobs, “Principles of Communication Engineering,” was regarded as the definitive text in communications theory for more than twenty years and remains widely used today.
In 1977 Jack joined the faculty at the Naval Post-Graduate School in Monterey CA to found an interdisciplinary program in Command, Control & Communications. He retired fully in 1987. He was awarded emeritus professorships at both MIT and NPS, and in 2006, he was honored with the Alexander Graham Bell Medal by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in recognition of his pioneering work.
Despite these many accomplishments, Jack invariably claimed that the high point of his life was marrying Frances Trask in 1963 during an eclipse of the sun. “We entered the church in the dark,” he wrote, “and came out into sparkling sunlight which has stayed with us ever since.” After his retirement, Jack and Fran moved to Sunriver OR and finally to Redmond WA, where they have enjoyed a warm, welcoming community and the opportunity to be closer to family and grandchildren.
If Jack had a singular passion beyond family and work, it was certainly sailing. He owned several sailboats over the years, and no doubt his thoughts would take him often to the deep blue ocean.
We know that Jack is now sailing steadily and peacefully on calm waters.
Contributions in memory of Jack may be made either to the Sunriver Christian Fellowship (PMB 18160 Cottonwood Rd, Sunriver, OR 97707) or the Redmond Presbyterian Church (10020 166th Ave NE, Redmond, WA 98052.)