Paul Ernest MacNeil (January 8, 1945 – February 27, 2023) is the eldest son of John and Doris MacNeil of Lexington, MA, where he shared a happy and vibrant childhood with his younger brother, Alan. This was a blessing he was always quick to attribute to the hard, caring work of his parents, whom he loved dearly.
After graduating from Lexington High School, Paul became the first in his family to attend college at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. He spent his four years at RPI pursuing his childhood passion, Physics, and continued this pursuit during his doctoral program at The University of Arizona. Academic life in Tucson was an adventure for Paul that included some nights at the nearby Kitt Peak National Observatory and connecting with some of the top minds in his field. He successfully defended his dissertation, titled Proton-Proton Scattering at High Energy, in 1971.
After graduation, Paul worked in the private sector for many years, including four exciting years at MIT. At MIT he played key roles in software design and data analysis, most notably for the Viking Relativity Experiment, which utilized the Viking probes sent to Mars by NASA to confirm Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.
In 1990 Paul accepted an Associate Professor position at Mercer University’s School of Engineering in Macon, GA. A dedicated professor, he was passionate about helping his students improve as software engineers and enjoyed three fulfilling decades working alongside his fellow MUSE faculty.
Paul was a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), loved space, and was a lifelong member of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). An avid historian, Paul could often be found reading books on a breadth of topics, from The Peloponnesian War to Winston Churchill, and he was happy to tell you as much about history as one might ever want to know.
Most importantly, Paul was a family man. He returned to the Lake’s Region in New Hampshire each summer to enjoy time spent with loved ones at his parents’ cottage on Lake Winnisquam. He was a devoted husband and father. He found these roles in life later in life than many, but in each he was first-class. For all his other interests, he never missed his son’s sporting events or school activities, and never failed to say how much appreciation he held for the love of his wife.
Paul is survived by his wife Mary of Macon, GA, his son John and daughter-in-law Jasmine of Atlanta, GA, two younger brothers, John Alan MacNeil of Maynard, MA, and Scott MacNeil, and his beloved nieces and nephew: Glen MacNeil (Heather) of Littleton, MA, Diane Connors (Dan) of Chester, NH, and Nancy MacNeil (Mark Tassinari) of Maynard, MA, as well as their children: Gannon, Connor, Violette, Ronan, Henry, and Will.
Paul bravely lived with ALS the last years of his life. Special thanks to the Georgia ALS Association and Emory Hospital.
A Celebration of Life ceremony will be held in Concord, Massachusetts at the Concord Funeral Home (74 Belknap St) on Saturday March 11th at 11:00 AM.
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