John Wozencraft

Wozencraft-PortraitJohn 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.

Wozencraft-SailingJack 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.

wazencraftWith-FranIn 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.)

12 Responses to “John Wozencraft”

  • Cathy Kelso says:


    Your father sounds like a wonderful man. Thinking about you and your family. Take care of yourself. We miss your humor and look forward to your return.


  • Tim Ford says:

    Colin, thank you for sharing all of this about your Dad. I’m guessing this is only the surface of your respect and affection, but it is a fine and noble tribute. Know that my thoughts are with you and your family. May you all be sheltered in peace as you mourn.


  • Kristi Newport says:

    Colin, Thank you for sharing a small insight into your father’s life. We are all thinking of you and your family. We look forward to you rejoining us when the time is right. Kristi

  • Seth Roberts says:

    Colin, I’m so happy I got to learn a bit about your dad. I once took a course in abstract algebra that covered some coding theory. It’s amazing to learn of the integral role your dad played in the development of this incredibly important (and beautiful) field. It’s clear he was an extraordinary man, and he lived an extraordinary life. Our thoughts are with you and your family. Seth

  • Ellie Coyne says:

    Dear Colin,
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this very difficult time. Thank you for sharing some of your Dads’ story, wow, what a wonderful, extremely smart and humble individual. We miss you and look forward to your safe return. 🙂 Ellie

  • Andrew says:

    To all the Wozencrafts He truly was a wonderful Loveing and amazing Father and Husband I can also ssy that he was just as amazing and wonderful as an Uncle, I have such fond memeories of visiting all of you in Mass. And more recently spending a day with both Fran and jack in Sun River many years ago. They both seamed so happy and content.
    He will definatly be missed

    with Love Andrew

  • Marelu Greco says:

    Fran, I’m so glad I got to have a small peek into the life of John. He sounds like an amazing man–one who had clear priorities and admirable values. My warmest regards for you and your family during this time of change.

  • Myra Lovvorn says:

    Colin, I am holding you and your family during this experience and looking forward to working with you when you are ready. I feel as though I knew your Dad through you. Take Care!!

  • Laura Schneider says:

    Dear Fran, John, Colin, Katie (and family): Please know that my thoughts and prayers go out to all of you during this time of grief and loss. Uncle Jack was a wonderful and caring man. He will be greatly missed by all. Much love, Laura.

  • nancy mcgrath green says:

    Dear Fran, John, Colin, and Katie,

    It was pure privilege knowing Jack and serving with him in the church. His penetrating mind probing the “why’s” of God’s attributes and actions in Biblical history was matched only by his high standard of integrity and utter devotion to his family. I feel so lucky to have been a small part of your family journey. I will be with you in spirit on October 10th.
    Much love and appreciation to all of you, nance

  • Karen Willey Tartre says:

    Dear Fran,

    I extend my deepest sympathy and caring thoughts to your family and you as you honor Jack’s many accomplishments and treasured life. Sincerely, Karen

  • Gilles Faure says:

    To John

    Dear John
    I had been trying to contact you and touch base several times with no success so far, I could not trace you but I thought Internet or whatever social network tool would help.
    I did help, unfortunately to learn that your father just passed away. I now feel sorry for you and your family. I remember him back in 82 in Carmel and Tahoe, as a nice and smart person, highly respected.

    How can I contact you?

    Give my best regards to your Mum, Colin and Cathie (do they remember?)


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