Alan William Postlethwaite

Alan William Postlethwaite, 89, of Arlington VA, formerly Washington DC and Cambridge, MA, died August 7, 2014.

Alan was born in Margate, England, to William and Rosina Postlethwaite, and was raised at the seaside where he grew to love the ocean, beach, and sailing. After earning his BS in Metallurgy from The University of Sheffield in England, he came to the US as an Andrew Carnegie Travelling Fellow, graduating with an MS in Metallurgy from MIT, where he started the MIT Rugby Club and was active in the MIT Sailing Pavilion.

Alan met his wife Mary nee Machlup, at the International Student Center in Cambridge, and they were married in Belmont, MA, on June 10, 1950.

Alan led groups at a series of industrial companies, including Gillette, Raytheon, Sylvania, and Norton. In 1974, he moved to Washington, DC to lead research in magneto-hydrodynamics and photovoltaic commercialization at ERDA/DOE. In 1982, Alan joined the Smithsonian Institute as Assistant Director, then Acting Director, of the Conservation Analytical Laboratory, In these roles, he presented at numerous museum conferences around the world.

Alan is survived by his wife, Mary, of Arlington, VA, and his daughters and sons-in-law, Wendy Postlethwaite and Kevin Sullivan of Lexington, MA, Andrea and Mark Riedy of McLean, VA, and Kim Draper and David Munro of Hull, MA. He also leaves his grandchildren, Whitney Kate, Amanda, and Rhyan Sullivan; Copeland and Abigail Draper; and Alexander and Julia Riedy.

There will be a small celebration of his life Massachusetts in the spring of 2015. In lieu of flowers, please send contributions in his name to the “MIT Men’s Rugby Club 2720376”, MIT Annual Fund, Office of Records, 600 Memorial Drive, W98-200, Cambridge, MA 02139-4822 or call (617) 253-8270.