James Pearson

Obituary
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James Boyd Pearson, Jr., our beloved father and grandfather, passed away October 29, 2012, in Houston, Texas. Boyd was born in McGehee, Arkansas, on June 3, 1930, to James Boyd Pearson, Sr. and Lydia Lacey Pearson. After the death of his mother when he was three days old, he was raised by his aunt, Linnie Mae Merrick, and his grandmother and grandfather, Minnie Boyd and James Henry Pearson, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. As a teen and young adult, he was a talented musician, playing the trumpet in a traveling swing band across the southern U.S. He gave up his dreams of a musician's life when he realized he was homesick from being on the road and away from home during every holiday season. He returned home and enrolled in the University of Arkansas as an engineering student. His studies were interrupted by the Korean War and he left the University to join the Army. He was deployed to Japan and attended Officer Candidate School there. Before leaving for Japan, he met his future wife, Marian Buck Scarborough, who was working as a medical technologist in Pine Bluff. They kept their connection alive through letters during the two years Boyd was stationed in Japan and after being discharged from the Army, as a Second Lieutenant, he returned to Arkansas to resume his studies and to reconnect with Marian. They were married on February 16, 1957, and raised six daughters together through 42 years of marriage, until Marian's death in December of 1999.
J. Boyd Pearson was the J.S. Abercrombie Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University until his retirement in July of 1999. He received the B.S.E.E. and M.S.E.E. degrees from the University of Arkansas, where he was a member of Sigma Chi, and the Ph.D. degree from Purdue University in 1962. He began his career at Rice University in 1965, in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and served as department chair from 1974 to 1979. He also served as president of the American Automatic Control Council from 1992-1993. He received an IEEE Outstanding Paper Award from the Control Systems Society for his work with Dr. Bor-Chin-Chang. He also received the George S. Axelby Outstanding Paper Award from the Society in 1989 for his work with Dr. Muther Dahleh. In 1995, he received the American Automatic Control Council's Education Award and was the recipient of the 1998 H.W. Bode Prize from the IEEE Control Systems Society, awarded for his lifetime contributions to the development of linear control theory from dynamic compensation to robust control, especially development of L1 optimal control theory, and for the education of numerous researchers in the field. He was honored in 2001 by a workshop, PearsonFest: New Directions in Dynamical Systems and Control, held in his honor and sponsored by the Dynamical Systems Group at Rice University
Boyd is preceded in death by his parents, James and Lydia Pearson, his aunt, Linnie Mae Merrick, and his wife, Marian Buck Scarborough Pearson. He is survived by his six daughters and four sons-in-law, Sarah and Tim Ryan, Jane Pearson, Carol and Gregg Thompson, Cathy and Duke Furrh, Susan and Robert Riddle and Jodie Pearson, and his beloved twelve grandchildren, Elizabeth, Daniel and Connor Ryan, Caroline, John Henry and Katherine Thompson, James and Jacob Furrh, and Will, Ben, Jack and Lily Riddle.
A memorial service will be held on Thursday, November 1, 2012, at noon, in the chapel at St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77027. A graveside service will be held for the family in Evergreen, Louisiana, on Friday, November 2, 2012. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in memory of Boyd and Marian Pearson to Rice University, at www.giving.rice.edu, or the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, at www.lls.org.

Published in Houston Chronicle from Oct. 31 to Nov. 1, 2012
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