Chandler Harrison “Harry” Stevens, Jr., 77, died February 1, 2012 in St. Paul, MN from the effects of Parkinson’s disease. 

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Joann, daughters, Emily Stevens (Bix Skahill) of St. Paul, MN, and Maria Stevens Bollinger (Murray) of Boston, MA, grandson, Dexter Skahill, sister Sally Stevens Luck (Edward) and six nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by an infant son and his parents, Chandler Harrison Stevens, Sr., and Margaret Cheyney Stevens.

Harry was born Jan 3, 1935, in Trenton, NJ.  Raised in Yardley, PA, he was a graduate of George School (1952).  He earned a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering at Georgia Tech (1956) and a PhD in Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1967). Active in public service and politics throughout his life, Harry was recognized as a pioneer in computer networking with a passion for citizen feedback, environmental protection, and social justice.  As a US Air Force officer he programmed computers at the Pentagon in the late 1950’s, before joining a management consulting firm in Boston in 1960.  He was a Selectman in Bedford, MA 1962-65.  Then as the first Independent elected in 50 years, he served in the Massachusetts State Legislature 1965-1968.  He was then appointed Science Advisor to the Governor of Puerto Rico.  He developed computer conferencing software as founder/CEO of Participation Systems Inc., 1970-1986.  He taught or researched at MIT, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Brandeis University, Riverland College, the University of Minnesota and Kherson Technical University (Ukraine).

After living in Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, Troy, NY, and Ann Arbor, MI, he and Joann moved in 1990 to Austin, MN, from where he continued to consult in management and technology.  As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine 1999-2001, he taught economic development, and he organized exchange programs for students and international press after returning home.  In 2004 he was a Minnesota delegate to the Democratic National Convention.  He volunteered for the Katrina Crisis Corps in 2005.  For the past several years he advocated for wind power, which he had first written about in 1955.  He was above all a futurist.

Harry played trumpet, cut a mean rug on the dance floor, and loved to play games. He maintained lifelong friendships with his Alpha Tau Omega brothers from Georgia Tech and his George School classmates.  His infectious enthusiasm will be greatly missed, and he will continue to be an inspiration to the many whose lives he touched.

A memorial service is being planned for June in Austin, MN.  For Harry's friends around the world, we hope you'll share your stories and memories via email, on Facebook or here. He was passionate about computer networking and "many-to-many" communications.  One of his favorite words was feedback; we'd love yours.



“ Don't curse the darkness - light a candle. ”

Chinese proverb

A Collection of Comments...

  • To everyone who sent emails and Facebook messages during Harry's final days, he really appreciated hearing them, and they meant so much to all of us. Thank you. -Emily, Maria & Joann

    Posted by Emily Stevens on February 12, 2012 5:56 pm

  • To Joann and familly -- we've not met, but Harry was an upperclass brother of mine at the ATO fraternity at Georgia Tech in 1955 - 1956. My recollections of Harry were on the receiving end of an upper classman's admonishing a poor fraternity pledge. He admonished well!! I remembered him well, and several years ago our friendship was renewed in a discussion of politics --- imagine that. We had many spirited debates, not always agreeing, but neverthless, definitely spirited. Harry was able to join us in Atlanta for a game several years ago, and he and I had dinner on the Friday evening. What an intellect, what a nice guy. We all share your loss, and know that Harry is now at peace without pain. May God bless him and you all.

    Orson Swindle

    Posted by Orson Swindle on February 12, 2012 9:45 pm

  • Harry - for your whole life you probably drove people, especially your nearest and dearest, crazy. What must it have been like to live in this world for 77 years with your intelligence and sensitivity. remarkable coincidence to meet in Orlando --a dozen or so of us --and you with the name of my uncle and Godfather. i dreaded being assigned with you to Alabama after Katrina and yet came to treasure our daily commute. your total honesty and how you valued JoAnn and your daughters! would love to have seen you doing backflips with the Georgia tech will live in my heart forever .Priscilla

    Posted by Priscilla Goldfarb on February 13, 2012 7:25 pm

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  • Born: 1935

    Trenton, New Jersey
    United States

  • Married:

    Joann Stevens

  • Children:

    Emily Stevens (Bix Skahill), Maria Bollinger (Murray Bollinger)

  • Grandchildren:

    Dexter Skahill

  • Interests

    Computer networking, politics, public service, Peace Corps, renewable energy, travel

Did you know?

  • He never took no for an answer, but in an incredibly charming and enthusiastic way. He could do a backflip from a standstill, a skill he perfected as a cheerleader captain at Georgia Tech.