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Frank Gabron

GABRON, Frank 81, formerly of Carlisle, Massachusetts, died Tuesday, May 17, 2011 in Washington, D.C. of cancer. He is survived by his son, Andrew Gabron; daughter-in-law Katherine Epler Gabron; and three grandchildren, Hailey, Cynthia, and Andrew, of McLean, Virginia. He was predeceased by his wife, Mildred Gabron in 1999, and his sisters, Madeline and Frances Gabron. Frank served as Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors for Helix Technology Corporation in Mansfield, MA, positions he held from 1980 until his retirement in 1996. During his tenure, Helix achieved dramatic growth in sales and profitability, highlighted by joint ventures in Europe and Japan, and a successful initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. Helix was the world's leading producer of vacuum equipment used in the production of semiconductors prior to its acquisition by Brooks Automation in 2005. He also served on the boards of several Massachusetts firms including Technical Communications Corporation; Aeonics Systems; Dynamic Research Corporation, and Termiflex Corporation of Merrimack, NH; and the Emerson Hospital, Concord MA. Born in 1930 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to Frank and Mary (Fantini) Gabron, Mr. Gabron grew up in Lenox, graduating from Lenox High School in 1947, and completed a postgraduate year at Lenox School for Boys in 1948. He attended the University of Rhode Island, and was awarded a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1953, and earned an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from The Pennsylvania State University in 1955, and was a member of Phi Sigma Kappa at both institutions. After graduating from Penn State, Mr. Gabron went to work as a senior combustion research engineer at United Technology Corporation. He was responsible for the initial development of the hydrogen-oxygen rocket engine technology used in UTC's highly-successful RL-10 upper-stage rocket engine for a variety of space missions. In 1960, he joined Arthur D. Little, Inc., an international research and consulting firm, where he held several engineering and new venture management positions. In 1969, Gabron received the NASA Achievement Award for his work "developing and producing equipment used in the Apollo 11 space flights." In 1974, Gabron joined the Helix Technology Corp. in Latham, Massachusetts, as group vice president for the company's CTI-Cryogenics and Process Systems divisions. Gabron became president of the corporation in 1980 and was elected chairman of the board in 1981. He held several U.S. patents, and was published in numerous technical publications. In his retirement, he focused on creating educational opportunities for students in the engineering profession, and 1989, Gabron was named the first Keen Professor for Entrepreneurship in Engineering at Penn State, for which he earned the Penn State Engineering Society Distinguished Service Award. He also endowed five fellowships and sponsored the Dusinberre Distinguished Lecture Series at Penn State's College of Engineering, as well as the Gabron Fellowship in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Rhode Island. Following his beloved wife's passing in 1999, he established the Mildred H. Gabron Liver Research Endowed Fund at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Locally, he mentored and supported the education of several local students, and supported the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua. In lieu of flowers, donations could be made to the Penn State College of Engineering, or the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua, New Hampshire. Please send to: PSU Engineering - Dean's Office, 101 Hammond Building, University Park, PA 16802-1400, attention Trish Long; or Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua, 47 Grand Avenue, Nashua NH 03060, attention Patricia Casey.

Published in The Boston Globe on May 29, 2011
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