East Greenwich, RI — Donald Winston Tufts, 79, of East Greenwich, RI passed away surrounded by loving family on August 9,2012. He is survived by his children Cynthia Tufts Anderson, David and John Tufts; two grandchildren, Jay and Katie Anderson; and his companion of 10 years, Sue Ross. Barbara Michelsen Tufts, his wife of 46 years, predeceased him in 2000.
A long time Summer resident of Annisquam, MA, Dr. Tufts grew up in Briarcliff Manor, NY and attended the Hotchkiss School. Upon graduating he was awarded the prestigious Tyng Scholarship, which provided for his education at Williams College (Class of 1955) and his masters and doctoral degrees at MIT.
Dr. Tufts was an expert in the fields of mathematics, electrical engineering, and computer science. His doctoral dissertation cracked the Nyquist problem of jointly optimizing transmitters and receivers for transmitting PAM data over ISI channels. His paper on this is considered a classic in its technical field. After leaving MIT, he was appointed a Research Fellow and Lecturer then Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics at Harvard University (1960-1967). Following this, he was a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering at the University of Rhode Island until his retirement in 2008 at the age of 75. In addition to academia, his private consulting clients included Bell Laboratories, National Academy of Sciences, the Institute for Defense Analyses, Office of Naval Research and Sanders (now BAE). He held seven patents and published numerous technical papers. His most revolutionary work came in 1982 in his papers with R. Kumaresan. This work changed the modeling and processing of radar, sonar and communication signals and has influenced generations of students and researchers. Beyond this he was the recipient of many awards for his overall work and contributions.
Dr. Tufts was passionate about teaching. He leaves a legacy of over 40 graduate students, an astonishing number. His colleague G. Sadasiv said it best- “ There are some brilliant thinkers who, when you talk to them, make you feel small. But the truly brilliant thinkers make you feel great; talking to them inspires you to a level where you seem to share understanding with them. Over the years, Dr. Tufts has made his Department the kind of place a University Department should be; where thinking is what you do and is such fun.”
This was not the only contribution Dr. Tufts made. He had a strong desire to give back to his community serving two terms as Chairman of the School Committee in East Greenwich followed by Moderator of the Fire District and a term on the Town Council. He volunteered in many charitable capacities. Lately he had been writing opinion pieces for the Providence Journal.
Dr. Tufts was a sophisticated, intellectual man with charming, courtly manners. He never dwelled on his accomplishments or himself. He is remembered by all for his kindness, generosity and genuine concern for others.
ARRANGEMENTS: In lieu of flowers, gifts in his memory may be made to the Barbara M. Tufts Cooperative Nursery School, 1558 South County Trail, East Greenwich, RI, 02818.