Gerald and James Massey

Gerald Massey

Gerald Massey

James L. Massey

 Dr. Massey was born Feb. 11, 1934 in Wauseon, Ohio, the firstborn of twin sons, to Charles Arnold and Ethel (Pry) Massey (later Ethel P. Sperry).

Dr. Massey was a 1948 graduate of Holy Cross School in Mendota, Illinois and a 1952 graduate of St. Bede Academy, Peru, IL. He attended the University of Notre Dame 1952-56 on an NROTC (Naval Reserve Officer Training Corp) scholarship, graduating maxima cum laude in electrical engineering and as class valedictorian. After three years active service (1956-59) as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, Dr. Massey attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on a National Science Foundation Scholarship, earning the M.S. (1960) and Ph.D. (1962) degrees in Electrical Engineering. Codex Corporation (later part of Motorola) was founded to make the hardware needed to implement the threshold-decoding ideas developed in his doctoral dissertation. During 1962-77, Dr. Massey was a professor in Notre Dame’s School of Engineering, where he was appointed the Frank M. Freimann Professor of Electrical Engineering, thereby earning the distinction of holding Notre Dame’s first endowed chair. He was awarded honorary doctoral degrees by Lund University (Sweden 1990) and the Technical University of Munich (Germany 2006). After leaving Notre Dame, Dr. Massey taught briefly at MIT and UCLA before accepting in 1980 a professorship in digital engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, where he worked until his 1998 retirement as Professor Emeritus of Digital Engineering. From 1998 until his death, Dr. Massey lived in Copenhagen, Denmark and held an adjunct research appointment at the University of Lund.

 An internationally acclaimed pioneer in digital communications (information theory, coding theory and cryptology), Dr. Massey received virtually every honor and award available to communications scientists and digital engineers. He was a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He was a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) since 1971, and a Fellow of the International Association for Cryptologic Research since 2009. Dr. Massey was the 1992 recipient of the Alexander Graham Bell Medal, awarded annually by the IEEE for “exceptional contributions to the advancement of communications sciences and engineering.” He received the Baker Prize in 1987, awarded for “the most outstanding paper reporting original work” in IEEE publications. In 1988, Dr. Massey received the Claude E. Shannon Award, the most prestigious prize in Information Theory, from the Information Theory Society for “consistent and profound contributions to the field of Information Theory.” The Marconi Foundation awarded the Marconi Prize, which includes a $100,000 honorarium and an original work of sculpture, to Dr. Massey in 1999. The Information Theory Society presented him its Distinguished Service Award in 2004.

 Dr. Massey worked principally in coding theory, especially error-correcting codes, and later in cryptology. Much of his work was sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation, as well as by corporations and governmental entities. He particularly liked to tackle challenging problems brought to him by research institutes and companies whose own scientists and engineers had been unable to solve them; he would say that there must be something interesting about such problems that makes them resist solution. Praised and honored as a teacher, Dr. Massey became a treasured mentor to an entire generation of digital engineers.

James Lee Massey, Ph.D., 79, of Copenhagen, Denmark, formerly of Mendota, died June 16, 2013 in Copenhagen after a struggle with colon cancer.

 Survivors include his wife, Lis K. Massey of Copenhagen; his twin brother, Gerald J. Massey, Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh; one sister, Joan Kramer of Sylvania, Ohio; four sons, Thomas A. Massey, Robert B. Massey, Peter C. Massey, and John D. Massey; two Danish stepsons, Flemming K. Bonde and Jesper K. Bonde; six grandchildren; seven step-grandchildren; and one step-great-granddaughter.

 He was preceded in death by his parents; his grandparents, William and Carrie Pry; aunts and uncles, Attorney James H. and Edith (Pry) Dubbs, Andrew and Dorothy (Pry) Paulin, and Clarence and Dorothy (Oester) Pry, all formerly of Mendota, and Sally (Becker) Pry and Floyd Pry, formerly of Sublette; and one brother-in-law, Lester N. Kramer, formerly of Mendota.


Gerald J. Massey

Dr. Gerald J. Massey was born Feb. 11, 1934 in Wauseon, Ohio, the second born of twin sons, to Charles Arnold and Ethel (Pry) Massey (later Ethel P. Sperry).

Dr. Gerald Massey was a 1948 graduate of Holy Cross School in Mendota, Illinois and a 1952 graduate of St. Bede Academy, Peru, IL.

 Gerald J. Massey, Ph.D. (Princeton 1964), is Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh, where he had also been Professor of History & Philosophy of Science and Fellow of the Center for Philosophy of Science before his retirement in May of 2007.  He took a B.A. degree maxima cum laude (1956) and an M.A. degree (1960) in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.  Appointed a Danforth Fellow and Woodrow Wilson Fellow (hon.) in 1956, he studied as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Louvain (Belgium) during 1956-57.  He served three years (1958-61) on active duty (field artillery) as a Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, from which he was honorably discharged at the rank of Captain in 1971.  He took M.A. (1962) and Ph.D. (1964) degrees in philosophy at Princeton University, where Carl G. Hempel directed his dissertation and Alonzo Church served as First Reader.  Apart from a semester as Visiting Associate Professor at the University of Michigan in 1967, he taught from 1963 to 1969 at Michigan State University, where he was promoted to Associate Professor in 1966 and then to Professor of Philosophy in 1968.  From 1963 to 1970 he served as Managing Editor of the journal Philosophy of Science, and from 1964 to 1970 as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Philosophy of Science Association.  He spent 1969-70 as an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh.

 In 1970 Dr. Massey was appointed Professor of Philosophy, Chairman of the Department of Philosophy (1970-77), and Fellow of the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh.  In 1971 he was also appointed Professor of History & Philosophy of Science in the University of Pittsburghs newly formed HPS department.  He was appointed Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh in 1992.  In 2005 he was a Visiting Professor at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, and a Visiting Professor at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey in 2006.

        During the 1970’s Dr. Massey chaired several national committees of the American Philosophical Association and served on its Board of Officers from 1973 to 1978.  He served as President of the University of Pittsburgh's Senate in 1976-77.  He spent the winter 1982 semester as Visiting Truax Professor of Philosophy at Hamilton College.  On special short-term assignment as Associate Dean of the University of Pittsburghs Faculty of Arts & Sciences in 1984, he drew up the long-range plan for this unit.  From 1988 to 1997 Dr. Massey served as Director of the University of Pittsburghs Center for Philosophy of Science, after having served as an Associate Director of this Center from 1985 to 1988.

        Dr. Massey is the author of Understanding Symbolic Logic (Harper & Row, 1970) and co-editor (with the late Tamara Horowitz) of Thought Experiments in Science and Philosophy (Rowman & Littlefield, 1991), co-editor (with John Earman, Allen Janis, and Nicholas Rescher) of Philosophical Problems of the Internal and External Worlds (University of Pittsburgh Press & University of Konstanz Press, 1993), co-editor (with Martin Carrier and Laura Ruetsche) of Science at Century's End: Philosophical Questions on the Progress and Limits of Science (University of Pittsburgh Press & University of Konstanz Press, 2000), and the author of many essays and articles in mathematical logic, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and the history of philosophy.  In recent years he has been working to establish a new approach to philosophy, the zoological approach, which takes into account what science and experience teach us about animals.  He and Dr. Barbara Massey served as guest editors of a special 1999 book-length issue of the journal Philosophical Topics devoted to philosophical ethology and zoological philosophy.  He has delivered lectures in universities and at conferences in Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the USA.

 In 1997 the President of Germany, Dr. Roman Herzog, awarded Dr. Massey the Bundesverdienstkreuz 1ster Klasse (Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany) for his contributions to German-American academic and philosophical cooperation.

In November 2005, Dr. Massey was elected to public office as a write-in candidate for a seat on the Borough Council of Stoneboro, Pennsylvania.  He succeeded in taking his seat on this Council in January 2006 despite his refusal to sign a McCarthy-era "anti-subversive" loyalty oath required of all elected local officials in Pennsylvania.  He credits this success to strong support of his anti-loyalty-oath stance from the press and from the media generally and to a ruling by the then Mercer County Solicitor, Mark Longietti, who declared the loyalty oath unconstitutional, exactly as Dr. Massey had argued.  Dr. Massey has vowed to fight for the removal of loyalty-oath legislation and other McCarthy-era statutes from the Pennsylvania code of laws.

In addition to his city residence in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, where he lives with his dogs Chico and Lazarus and his cat Zorro, Dr. Massey maintains a vacation cottage on his 70-acre horse farm in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania, where he makes hay and trains, studies, and rides Morgan horses.  Until recently, he served as an Auxiliary Deputy Sheriff with the Butler County Mounted Posse, a volunteer civic organization that conducts mounted patrols at large public events.  Poetry and sailing are among his passions, and some of his poems are posted on his webpage (  Although having retired from teaching in 2007, Dr. Massey continues to publish actively and to lecture widely in the United States and around the world.   Poetry written by Dr. Massey on his webpage listed above.

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