John Warren Pugh, 86, of Framingham, MA passed away on Thursday, May 21, 2020 after a long and courageous battle with Parkinson’s Disease. John was born in Black River Falls, WI on August 6, 1933, the only son of Warren and Viola (Helbling) Pugh. He was predeceased by his two older sisters, Mary Jean DiFranco of Cleveland, OH and Beth Kobayashi of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
John is survived by Marilyn, his wife of 62 years, his three children John and partner Aileen Dashurova of Tyngsboro MA, Judy Pugh and husband Brad Barker of Boylston MA, and Steven of Allston MA. He leaves five grandchildren and a large extended Wisconsin family.
John loved to talk of his time growing up in Black River Falls. He would tell hilarious stories of the mischief he would get into with his life-long friend Tom Jones, currently of Colorado. He was popular and a natural leader in high school including captain of the football team. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1956 with a degree in Electrical Engineering, the first of his family to graduate from college. John later earned his Master’s Degree from the University of Arizona in 1961.
A ROTC student at the University of Wisconsin, John entered the service in 1956 serving in the Army Signal Corp. He was later assigned to the newly formed Defense Communications Agency (DCA) where he was part of a team that designed and coordinated the US military’s telecommunications network during the ramp-up of the Vietnam war in the early 1960’s. His work in Vietnam is documented in the book, A Test for Technology, Military Communications During the Vietnam War by John Bergen. His efforts in Vietnam earned John the Army Commendation and the Joint Services Commendation medals for meritorious, non-combat service. Always one for adventure, John traveled throughout Asia during his time in Vietnam sending home exotic artifacts that are still conversation pieces in his home. It was during his posting at Fort Ritchie, Maryland that John met the commanding Colonel's daughter, Marilyn Miller, the love of his life. They were married in June 1958.
Following his military service, John’s professional career became part of the history of the data communications industry. John joined the Computer Control Corporation (3C), the company that led the evolution from mainframe to mini-computers in the 1960’s. He later moved to Codex Corporation, a leading data communications company, serving in various executive roles during the emergence of the wide-area data communications technology that preceded the internet. Due to his involvement and encyclopedic knowledge of this nascent stage of computers, The Computer History Museum includes an interview with John in which he chronicles the growth of this important transformative industry. John retired from Motorola Corporation as President and General Manager of the Motorola Recovery Services Division in 1990.
In retirement, John served on the Board of Bay Path Elder Services and as a member of the Framingham Council on Aging.
John was a clever and energetic man with many interests that put his natural engineering skills to work. As a teen, he bought a 1940’s Chevy convertible that he fixed up and painted bright yellow. He installed a spark plug in the exhaust pipe that he could fire from a button on the dashboard. When pressed, flames would shoot out the tailpipe. He architected and constructed the large barn in his yard and was an accomplished woodworker. He designed and built an RV from scratch out of a used commercial van in which the family explored America on countless camping trips while the children were young. He was a master of electricity and did his own electrical work. He was the ultimate handy-man and craftsman in which no task was too challenging or difficult for him to complete well.
An avid boater and sailor, John enjoyed many years of sailing on The Pegasus, his 33-foot Hunter. He would sail the coast of New England and participated in blue-water sails to Bermuda. In the manner that he lived his life, John liked to sail with all sails unfurled and the rails in the water where every moment was challenging and exciting. He and Marilyn loved sharing their home on Cape Cod with family and friends. It was here that they would host fun filled, week-long reunions with family during the summer.
John was passionate about cooking, clocks, coin collecting, and cars. He was an accomplished chef whose signature dishes included Beef Wellington, homemade sausage, sauerkraut, and pasta. He could remember the details of every car he owned but his favorite was his white, convertible 1956 Jaguar XK-140. He joked he would have owned that car forever except that a pregnant Marilyn couldn’t fit in it.
The best word to describe John is charismatic. At any social event, John was at the center of the conversation telling stories with wit and wisdom. John never lost his mischievous side and it was not unknown for him to pull pranks on people, especially his sisters. People gravitated to him as a result of his intelligence, the interesting way in which he turned a story, and his good-natured demeanor.
Above all, John was a family man. His greatest love was to share the life that he and Marilyn built with their extended families. He was a friend to all and a caring family patriarch whose personality and warmth will be deeply missed.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, no event is currently being planned. A private burial will take place at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne, MA. Please raise a toast to John’s memory in the safety of your home.
The family would like to recognize the staff at Eliot Center for Health and Rehabilitation and Constellation Health Services and Hospice for their kind care of John. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Parkinson Disease Association at https://www.apdaparkinson.org/.
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