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John W. MacArthur

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John W. MacArthur Obituary
John Wood MacArthur died peacefully on January 4th at his home in Marlboro, from complications following a hip fracture (that occurred while he was getting the snow tires out of his garage). He was 94 years old and had recently joked about being 104.

John was born in Chicago to John MacArthur and Olive Turner MacArthur, and grew up in Toronto. He attended the University of Toronto and received a Masters Degree in Physics from the University of Chicago and a PhD from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

While a student at Chicago he met his wife of almost 60 years, Margaret, at a folk music society, and serenaded her with love songs outside her dorm room window. They moved to Vermont in 1948, first to John's parents' place in Newfane and then to their home in Marlboro in 1951, where they raised their five children and where both John and Margaret died. John was a builder of many things: banjos, barns, houses, and in the early 1970s, recognizing the looming energy crisis and in hopes of a better future for our planet, an electric car which he drove to and from work.

In the 1960s he travelled to Panama with his brother, Robert MacArthur, to work on groundbreaking theories of island ecology. A self-described "teacher at heart," John was probably best known for having taught at Marlboro College for over sixty years, teaching physics, astronomy, and advanced mathematics until his "retirement" at which point he continued to teach Global Climate Change for another twenty-five years. A lifelong naturalist and birder, he travelled extensively throughout his lifetime on bird-watching expeditions, including trips to Antarctica, central America, the Galapagos, Greenland and the Arctic.

A longtime environmentalist and proponent of alternative energies, his family is glad that he will not see how society is currently dealing with the changing world.

John was predeceased by his son Patrick and his wife Margaret.

He is survived by his son John of Talpa, New Mexico, his sons Dan and Gary and his daughter Megan Littlehales of Marlboro, and his grandchildren Jason, Robin, Hillary, Brennan, Thorin and Iyla. He is also survived by four great-grandchildren who will fondly remember visiting him in his house (for a never-ending supply of cookies and cashews).

SERVICES: There will be a memorial gathering in Marlboro on May 7th .

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in John's name to Marlboro College, to which he dedicated his life, or to VPIRG.
Published in Brattleboro Reformer on Jan. 10, 2017
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