Jonathan Rush Fadiman of Kennebunk, Maine, formerly of Concord and Groton, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, January 3, at the age of 91. Born December 4, 1931, in New York City, Jonathan, known to many as Jon or Jono, was the son of the late Clifton Fadiman, an author, critic and radio host, and Pauline Evans, an editor.
Jon received his B.A. with Honors from Amherst College in 1953. He then went on to complete his Master of Science in Applied Physics with Distinction from Harvard University in 1955.
In 1957 he married Mary Louise Turner, a technical writer, editor, and language teacher. Before Mary Lou’s death in 2018, they shared 61 years, mostly in Massachusetts, primarily Concord and then Groton. They also summered for many years and owned a home in Kennebunk, Maine. In 2018, Jon moved to Kennebunk to be with his son Matthew and his family.
First hired at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in 1955, Jon helped design the Lincoln TX-0, the world’s first transistorized computer. In 1958, he became one of the founding engineers of the then-startup Digital Equipment Corporation of Maynard, Mass. (Digital would grow to become the second largest technology company of the era, surpassed only by IBM.) At Digital, he held a variety of engineering roles, then moved into business development where he eventually became responsible for all international marketing. He started Digital’s offices in Munich and then Paris, where he and Mary Lou had the opportunity to put their fluent French to good use. In an account of his career he wrote for his family at age 90, he recalled competing with IBM to sell one of the first digital minicomputers throughout Europe. “We sold mostly to universities, which wanted something small, something students could interact with easily, and not be too expensive. We had the answer!” After Digital, Jon led business development at several well-known area technology companies. In 1995, he retired as the Director of International Sales and Marketing at CSPi of Billerica, Mass.
But Jon wasn’t done yet, as he chose to live his retirement deliberately by becoming involved with the Thoreau Society of Concord.. He spent the next 23 years managing the Thoreau Society Shop at Walden Pond, where his Thoreauvian knowledge and enthusiasm were a joy to him and others.
Jon traveled the world, both for career and pleasure. In all, he explored over 75 countries, with his favorites being France and Australia. He also traveled broadly throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa. His travel was so extensive that at times he needed to have additional sections inserted in his passport just to accommodate all the country stamps and visas!
Jon was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Concord, and later Saint David’s Episcopal Church in Kennebunk. He was a member of the Thoreau Society of Concord and a charter member of the Concord Free Public Library. After moving to Kennebunk in 2018, he became active in a number of organizations, including The Center, Le Cercle Français, and the Newcomers and Neighbors club of the Kennebunks.
Despite his considerable accomplishments, Jon was incredibly modest, preferring to shine the light on others. His smile, selflessness, determination, and kindness to others are what is most remembered.
He loved the beach and the ocean. He was a skilled sailor, but when not on the water could often be found at the beach enjoying the sun, surf, and sand. Over the last few years in Kennebunk (no matter the weather), he became a beloved fixture, sitting contentedly on the Kennebunk Beach seawall or progressing determinedly with the assistance of his ever-present walking sticks. He relished meeting people and having wonderful “beach conversations.”
Jon is predeceased by Mary Lou, his wife of 61 years. He is survived by his four children: Clarissa Eaton of Ayer, MA; Matthew Fadiman (Jennifer) of Kennebunk, ME; Christopher Hardman (Cathy) of Rochester, NH; and Plessy Dray (Alan) of Coral Springs, FL. He is also survived by his half-brother, Kim Fadiman of Jackson, WY, and half-sister, Anne Fadiman (George Colt) of Whately, MA, along with nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. He will be dearly missed.
Services and burial at the historic Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord are private.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Jon’s memory may be made to: The Thoreau Society, 341 Virginia Rd. Concord, MA 01742.
Arrangements are under the care of Dee Funeral Home & Cremation Service of Concord. To share a remembrance or to offer a condolence in his online guestbook, please visit www.DeeFuneralHome.com.