Alexander Filipov

Alexander Filipov
American Flight 11

A Desire to Know

Alexander Filipov, an electrical engineer, did not just check his sons' homework. He explained it in complex mathematical terms. He took them sailing and taught them to calculate their location by the positions of the stars.

"He had incredible math acumen," said David, a son who is a journalist. "But he was no genius whiz nerd. He would go up to anybody and start telling stories about himself."

He asked religious proselytizers about their lives and showed them the backyard goldfish pond he had carved in granite. He learned the phrase "Do you like Chinese food?" in 17 languages to open conversations with foreigners.

Mr. Filipov, 70, and Loretta, his wife of 44 years, lived in Concord, Mass. He was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11, which was hijacked en route from Boston to Los Angeles and flown into 1 World Trade Center.

When he was 60 and on business in California, he went bungee-jumping. "I didn't like when I was done," he said later, "and nobody was looking at me."

"Every new gadget he found he had to tell you about, whether or not you understood it," said David Filipov. "He wanted very badly to learn things and know things."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 8, 2001.

Alexander Filipov, engineer and outdoors enthusiast; at 71

By David Filipov, Globe Staff, 9/21/2001

Alexander M. Filipov, an electrical engineer and church deacon, died in the crash of American Airlines Flight 11 in New York City on Sept. 11. He was 70.

A longtime resident of Concord who semi-retired in 1999, Mr. Filipov continued to work in the field of electronics as a consultant. He was traveling to California on a business trip at the time of his death.

A member of Trinitarian Congregational Church, Mr. Filipov was a deacon and a former moderator and served on numerous church committees. But family, friends, and co-workers said it was his personal touch that they will remember most.

"He made everybody feel like they were his best friend," said Judy Walpole, the church's business manager. "He just made you feel like you were the most important person, as though he got up that morning just because he wanted to meet you and talk to you."

Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1931, Mr. Filipov graduated from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, in 1955. He spent summers exploring the Canadian Arctic and rebuilding Model-A cars, experiences that set him on a lifetime path of outdoor adventures and tinkering with intricate machinery.

Mr. Filipov moved to Concord in 1959 and became a US citizen in 1962. Over the years, he worked as an engineer in several Boston-area companies.

He was also a Boy Scout leader and Little League baseball coach who delighted in teaching his children to ski, sail, play tennis and guitar, and do complex math homework assignments.

Unwilling to move away from Concord when his last employer, Vibrometer Corp., relocated to California, Mr. Filipov became a consultant and developed still more interests, including painting, golf, and astronomy. He would spend Sundays at church after services, recounting Arctic adventures and amusing his fellow members with his often irreverent humor.

Mr. Filipov leaves his wife of 44 years, Loretta; three sons, Allan of Houston, Jeffrey of Salem, and David, of Moscow; two brothers, James of North Bay, Ontario, and John, of Windsor, Ontario; and a sister, Angeline Brown, of Alvordton, Ohio.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the Trinitarian Congregational Church in Concord.

Editorial Obituary published in THE BOSTON GLOBE on September 21, 2001.

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