Carl Accardo

Carl Anthony Accardo, 85, of Winchester, Mass., died of natural causes March 22, 2014 at his home.

He was born April 20, 1928, in Torrington, Conn., the first son of Gaetano and Maria Accardo.

After graduating from Torrington High School in 1945, he studied physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., graduating with the Class of 1948.

He moved to New Jersey to work as a physicist at Camp Evans and at the United States Signal Research and Development Laboratory at Fort Monmouth, and became a specialist in high-energy radiation detection. With his colleagues Kurt Lehovic and Edward Jamgochian, he conducted pioneering experiments in the field of electroluminescence. The men published their findings in a 1951 issue of the Physical Review, and their paper is considered a breakthrough in the field of solid state physics. Today, this phenomenon is popularly known as the LED.

He earned a master’s degree in physics from New York University in 1951.

A veteran of the Korean War, he served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps and was stationed in Germany. He was among a group of American officers monitoring Soviet efforts to develop the hydrogen bomb during the Cold War. He received an honorable discharge in 1955 at the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.

Upon his return from Germany, he married Edna Ertle on July 1, 1956.

Recognizing the technology boom that centered on Route 128, he moved his family to Woburn, Mass., in 1961 before settling in Winchester two years later. He took a staff position at the Geophysics Corporation of America (GCA), which developed and built sounding rockets and their payloads throughout the 1960s; he later became director of its Chemical Physics and Engineering Laboratories. He and his colleagues investigated upper atmospheric phenomena that occurred during three solar eclipses: at Fort Churchill, Manitoba in 1963, at Cassino, Brazil in 1966, and at Wallops Island, Va., in 1970. His accounts of the last two eclipses appeared in Sky & Telescope.

In 1973 he and his MIT classmate John Dulchinos of Winchester and Dr. Henry A. Miranda formed Epsilon Laboratories, Inc., where he served as President. The firm developed a payload instrument carried aboard the second mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1981 to monitor shuttle-induced contaminants that might adversely affect infrared imaging systems on board.

He returned to MIT in 1986 as a Liaison Officer in its Industrial Liaison Program, later becoming Director of Asian Operations. In 2004 Japanese Emperor Akihito recommended him to receive one of his country’s highest honors, the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Rosette. Just before his retirement at 79, he was made an honorary member of the Quarter Century Club in recognition of his efforts on behalf of MIT.

He had a lifelong interest in photography and photographic processes. He was active in Little League Baseball, was fluent in Italian and German, and enjoyed classical and Irish music. He collected Eskimo art and rare books. He was often a guest at the annual dinners of the Speckled Band of Boston, a Sherlock Holmes society.

He leaves his wife, Edna, and four sons: Carl V. Accardo and his wife, Sara, of Derry, and their children, Max, Ben, and Julie; Thomas A. Accardo of Winchester, Mass., Peter X. Accardo and his wife, Heidi, of Lynnfield, Mass., and their son, Peter, and James Accardo of Winchester; two daughters: Edna Accardo-Walls of Winchester and her sons Christian, Brandon, and Alec, and Laura (Accardo) Norquist and her husband, Dr. Craig Norquist of Paradise Valley, Ariz.; and three sisters, Anne Horvitz of Grand Rapids, Mich., and Theresa Sloane and Arlene Lamere, both of Torrington, Conn. He was predeceased by two brothers, Thomas and Philip Accardo; a sister, Mary LoBrutto; and a son-in-law, John Walls.