Joan Mark Gourgas died on July 4, 2021.
Born in Concord, MA on May 22, 1944, Joan grew up in Milton. She was the daughter of the late Gertrude Emeline Read and the late John Mark Gourgas IV. She was also preceded in death by her sister, Trudy Ann Gourgas.
Joan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from Simmons College and a Master of Business Administration degree in computer information systems from Bryant College.
Joan worked as a scientist for Bolt, Beranek, and Newman at their offices in Cambridge, MA and Roslyn, VA. She later worked as a software engineer for IBM in Manassas, VA and Middletown, R.I. She finished her career working for the City of Newport from 1990 until her retirement in 2004.
A humble woman, Joan had a fascinating life and career. She loved to challenge herself and mastered advanced math, science, and Russian language classes during her time at Simmons. Often she was one of three students in her advanced classes and was offered an opportunity to study computers at MIT.
Her highly analytical background landed Joan a position at Bolt, Beranek and Newman in their oceanology department. During the mid-sixties, the U.S. was in the midst of the Cold War. Joan's technical expertise and knowledge of Russia allowed her to work with the CIA, Harvard and MIT in reviewing Russian literature. Her work plotting data points (pre-calculators) had applications as varied as determining how to keep submarines safe and sound-proofing at the original Radio City Music Hall. She continued this work with submarine acoustical contracts during her time with IBM.
If one merged the movie "Hidden Figures" with Tom Clancy's “Hunt for Red October” and Rick Campbell's “Trident Deception,” one can better understand the work Joan did for her country during her professional career. It may be hard to balance that woman with the soft-spoken woman who taught computer classes at the Middletown Senior Center, helped so many track their ancestral roots, knit prayer shawls as part of the Prayer Shawl Ministry at the United Congregational Church in Middletown, and played a mean game of dominoes. Joan was all of these things and so much more. A dedicated daughter, sister, cousin, and friend, the world has lost a true light with Joan's passing.
She leaves half-siblings, Mark and Laura Gourgas, and her much loved cousins in Maine.
Honoring her request, there will be no public service. Donations may be made in Joan's honor to the ASPCA and HSUS (Humane Society of the United States).