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PostHeaderIcon DONALD E. CATLIN of AMHERST, MASS, April 29, 1936 – January 11, 2016

Amherst, Donald Catlin, of Amherst, MA, died peacefully on Monday, January 11th after a short illness. Don was born on April 29th, 1936, in Erie, Pennsylvania, son of the late Marian Carlson and F.H. Catlin. 

Growing up as an only child with an English Teacher and Electrical Engineer as parents, he was precocious and curious. He made elaborate cards for his mother whenever she was ill, and entertained them both with magic tricks. Magic was one of his lifelong interests, and he was talking with friends about current magicians just two weeks ago. 

Don attended Academy High School in Erie, graduating in 1954. While still in high school he met his wife of 53 years, Mary, at a 4th of July beach party on Presque Isle. The photos we have from that time show what an elegant young couple they were. After a summer job which included changing truck tires and “running numbers”, Don moved on to Pennsylvania State University, where he earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1958, followed by a Masters in Mathematics in 1961.  Clearly he had overcome the dislike of mathematics he had during his grade school years. 

 

Married in 1961, Don and Mary moved to Gainesville, Florida so that Don could pursue his Doctorate Degree. One might think working on a PhD would be enough to keep one busy. Not true if you are Don Catlin. Don’s hobbies and interests included cave diving (with full scuba gear), French cooking, weight lifting, and fancy cars.  He was probably slowed down a bit with the birth of his son Jeffrey in 1964, but not too much, as he went on to successfully earn his PhD in Mathematics in 1965.  He and Mary moved to Amherst in 1965, and Don’s daughter Jennifer was born in 1968. 

Don became a professor of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Massachusetts in 1965, and stayed there until his retirement in 2002. While a professor, he continued to pursue his passion for French Cuisine, and his family and friends benefited greatly from his enthusiasm for “all things gourmet”. During his sabbaticals, he worked for TASC in Reading, MA, and while he was not allowed to tell his family at the time, he designed submarine guidance systems for the government.  At the other end of the spectrum, he also worked as a consultant to the casino industry concerning game design and results. After retiring from teaching, he was able devote more time to this passion, and was a regular contributor to Casino City Times and Rolling Good Times.  

After retiring he took more time for travel, and he and Mary made a trip to Australia and New Zealand, cruised to Alaska, and traveled extensively in the Southwest and West Coast of the U.S. He made his final trip to Las Vegas in the summer of 2015 with his friend Mary Jane. 

Don was predeceased by his wife Mary in January 2015. He is survived by his son Jeffrey and his wife Andrea; his daughter Jennifer and her husband Larry Burcroff; his grandsons Scott, Tyler, Nathaniel and Jacob. Don was very proud of his family, and during the last year commented often about his terrific family and wonderful grandsons. 

Don was a determined, kind, generous and intelligent man, who always loved to entertain those he met with a joke and a story. He was loved dearly and will be missed.

Calling hours will be held at the Douglass Funeral Home in Amherst, MA on Thursday, January 14th, from 5 -7 PM and a memorial service will be held on Friday, January 15th at 10:30am at the Douglass Funeral Home in Amherst, MA.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the VNA & Hospice of Cooley Dickinson.

 

 

 

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