1935 - 2012
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.