Robert J. Mackin Ph.D. Jr.
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December 4, 1925 - October 17, 2019 Robert J. Mackin, Jr., Ph.D., died October 17, 2019 in Pasadena, California. Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, December 4, 1925, Bob is survived by his beloved wife Merrilee Fellows; his daughter Dana Mackin Pilchik, son-in-law Evan Pilchik and their daughter Evie; daughter DeeDee Vanderwater; daughter Suzanne Goulding; sister Beverly Baetge and her sons and families. He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert James and Gladys Mackin, and his son, Robert J. Mackin III. He grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas where he claimed to have enjoyed such boyhood activities as squirrel hunting at the town dump. As a child he delighted in numbers and set out to write down ALL the numbers. He even made his car odometer milestones a family affair. This love of numbers took him far beyond Little Rock to Yale University where he received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. His college education was interrupted to serve in the US Army infantry during World War II. He received both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star and served during the Ardennes Offensive. After graduation from Yale, Bob received his Ph.D. in nuclear physics from Caltech. He worked for the Office of Naval Research in Washington, D.C. and at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee before joining NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California in 1962, retiring in 1995. At JPL he managed the Space Sciences Division and later, programs in biomedical and energy technologies and in military research and development. He was a mentor to many women rising in the ranks at JPL, taking a sincere interest in their professional growth. He wrote one book, Current Knowledge of the Moon and Planets, co-edited another, The Solar Wind, and authored numerous articles. He served on the Board of Huntington Medical Research Institutes for 45 years and spent many years on the Board of Directors for SRO Housing (Single Room Occupancy Housing) in Los Angeles.Bob enjoyed travel and was always actively engaged with friends. His closest friends are those with whom he skied, enjoyed wine tasting, played tennis, sailed, backpacked, and attended musical events and Caltech lectures. He and Merrilee travelled to all continents except Australia and his adventures include soloing as a private pilot and touching whales in Baja. Throughout his life he daily knew the current phase of the moon.Bob was devoted to his family, especially his daughter, Dana. His pleasure in everything she did - including her academic achievement becoming a Clinical Psychologist at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and faculty at the Medical School - was exceeded only by his pleasure in her marriage to Evan and the arrival of their daughter, Evening (Evie). Bob was a gentleman, a friend, a hero. He passed away quietly with Merrilee and Suzanne at his side, with a view of his treasured San Gabriel Mountains and Pasadena architecture. The world is better for the presence of Bob Mackin in it. Although part of that light has gone out, his magical being will guide us forever.In lieu of flowers, we encourage you to consider honoring Bob's legacy with a gift to Huntington Medical Research Institutes (HMRI) located at 686 S. Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105. Please make your checks payable to HMRI or give online at:

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Published in Los Angeles Times from Nov. 1 to Nov. 3, 2019.
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August 29, 2020
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Mary Glass
November 19, 2019
I had the good fortune of meeting Bob through my friendship with Merrilee, who I know through our academic history at UC Santa Barbara. Merrilee and I both went on to become lawyers, and we often attend the State Bar's annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite, where I met Bob. Bob was happy to attend a conference at which he could attend sessions or not as the moment struck him. Bob was a delight to converse with, had a rich well of knowledge on many subjects, and I appreciated his deep and obvious care for Merrilee. My deepest condolences to his family on this profound loss.
Stephen Oliva
October 29, 2019
Merrilee Fellows
October 29, 2019
Merrilee Fellows
October 29, 2019
Much love to the family as you grieve. He sounds like an amazing human being.
Leslie Kasperowicz
October 29, 2019
Offering our deepest condolences during this difficult time.
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