John E. Bortz Sr.

John E. Bortz, Sr., 77, a resident of Acton, MA, died unexpectedly on Thursday, February 21, surrounded by his family at Lahey Hospital in Burlington. Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, he was the son of the late Bernard and Edna (Long) Bortz. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1957. After serving in the United States Air Force as a navigator, he joined MIT's Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, in 1961, which had received the first major contract of the Apollo space program to design the guidance, navigation, and control system of the Apollo spacecraft. John Bortz's Master of Science thesis in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT is among the noted contributions to the Apollo program. He then joined NASA, where he developed the "Bortz equation" in earning his doctorate of science, also from MIT. In addition, he holds an MBA from Boston University. He worked for more than 20 years at TASC (The Analytic Sciences Corporation), retiring in 1998. Mr. Bortz was a man of science and of deep faith. In 2000, he was ordained as a deacon in the Catholic church. It was among his great joys to serve in the parishes of St. Elizabeth's of Hungary, in Acton, MA, and St. Mary's, in Chelmsford, MA. He baptized four of his grandchildren, among many others, and performed the marriage for his youngest daughter. He was also dedicated to his ministry at the Shirley MCI prison. He was above all a family man. He lived life to the fullest with humor, intellect, boundless energy, and unfailing generosity. He enjoyed his travels with his beloved wife of 52 years, ski trips, baseball games, and celebrations with his many children and grandchildren. He was devoted to dogs, and he cherished the small pleasures of visiting with friends for coffee or discovering the wonders of new technology. He was interested in everything and everyone and will be deeply missed. He is survived by his wife, Betty Bortz, daughter Sandra Bortz, daughter Melanie Bortz Plitouke and husband Anthony, daughter Tamara Bortz, daughter Christina Bortz DiPietro and husband Michael, son John Bortz, Jr. and wife Sharon, daughter Darcey Bortz Fahey and husband Peter, and grandchildren Chelsea, Nakoal, and Christopher Bortz, Nicholas and Matthew Miller, Thomas and Olivia DiPietro, Katherine and Caroline Bortz, and Victoria and Lila Fahey. He is also survived by his sister Joanne Young and husband David, brother Bernard Jay Bortz, and sister Katherine Hancock and husband Joseph. Visiting hours will be held Tues., Feb. 26th in St. Elizabeth's of Hungary Parish, 89 Arlington Street, ACTON, MA, beginning with the Reception Rite at the church entrance at 5:00pm, followed by the Vigil Liturgy prayer service. Visiting will then commence, concluding at 8:00pm. The funeral Mass will be celebrated Wed., Feb. 27th at 10 am at St. Elizabeth's Parish, with burial following in Woodlawn Cemetery, Concord Road, Acton. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Joseph's Indian School, PO Box 100, Chamberlain, SD 57325. For more information and on-line condolences, please visit

Published in The Chelmsford Independent from Feb. 26 to Mar. 5, 2013