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Edward S. Popko, II
July 29, 1943 ~ November 7, 2023 (age 80) 80 Years Old
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Dr. Edward S. Popko II, a man of extraordinary achievement and unwavering dedication, passed away early on November 7th, 2023 surrounded by his family in his home in Woodstock, NY. He was born in Miami, Florida on July 29th, 1943 to his parents, Edward and Frances 'Fran' Popko. Ed's early years were marked by his love for model aviation as a founding member of the Piston Poppers club, forming a passion he cherished throughout his life. As a Boy Scout, he achieved the Life Rank, setting the stage for a life of purpose and exploration.
His higher academic journey began at Dade County Jr College's engineering program and then onto the University of Florida's Architecture program. Ed graduated with an Associate of Arts degree in 1964 and embarked on an academic career starting with architectural preservation of historic buildings with the U.S. National Park Service. Ed's commitment to architecture took him to the University of Detroit, where he was awarded, the Student Medal of Excellence by the American Institute of Architects in 1968, completed an internship at the R. Buckminster Fuller-Sadao Geometrics Inc., and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Architecture. Most importantly, while at the University he met his future wife, Geraldine. He continued to make significant contributions, including his work as a cartographic computer programmer for the Detroit Regional Transportation and Land Use Study (TALUS). His life-long pursuit for knowledge led him to MIT, where he earned his Master of Architecture degree and became a registered architect in Massachusetts. Ed was also a recipient of the US State Department’s Fulbright-Hays Scholarship, which enabled him to travel and research self-help housing initiatives for two years in Colombia. Following his Fullbright studies, Ed accepted a Technical Directorship within the Organization of American States (OAS) for two years in Bogotá, Colombia. Returning to MIT for his doctoral work in urban planning in 1975, he used his field experiences and case studies of squatter settlements across South America to ultimately earn his PhD from MIT in 1980.
Ed's career included serving as a lecturer and director at Harvard's Graduate School of Design and consultant with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and World Bank. In 1982, Ed began working for IBM's newly formed Engineering Systems Programs (ESP) R&D unit in Kingston, NY which sparked a three-decade career with IBM. He was a member of IBM’s Quarter Century Club, held various product development and marketing positions in application areas including Architecture/Engineering/Construction (AEC), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and shipbuilding. He retired from IBM in 2011 and continued some work for Dassault Systemes in shipbuilding for a few years more.
Throughout his life, Ed authored over a hundred personal and professional publications which included three books. His first book, Geodesics published by the University of Detroit Press, printed in 6 editions and featured in the Whole Earth Catalog, documents his experience at Geometrics Inc. Much of Ed’s doctoral work formed the basis for his second book, Transitions: A Photographic Documentary of Squatter Settlements by McGraw Hill, 1978. Most recently, in 2012 and 2021, Ed published two editions of Divided Spheres: The Orderly Subdivision of the Sphere which showcased his fascination with solid geometry.
Ed's love for sailing, model aviation, and amateur radio painted a diverse picture of his interests. He was an active member of the Rip Van Winkle Scouting Council, First Mate of Sea Scout Ship 609, and certified US Sailing instructor. He was an avid craftsman and pilot of model gliders throughout his life, perfecting hobby building techniques and actively promoting model aviation in his community. He embraced the world of amateur radio, carrying on his father's legacy with his call sign W4GNT and passing his love ham radio to his children. Throughout his life, he remained fascinated by celestial navigation as practiced by blue water sailors with sextants and by 19th-century age-of-sail navigators such as whalers and world explorers. In 2013, Ed completed 100 miles of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage on foot. His retirement allowed him to enjoy the tranquil surroundings of Woodstock, New York, with his surviving wife and true partner of 53 years, Geraldine. Ed's legacy lives on through his daughter, Ellen, and son, Ben, who continue to be inspired by his achievements and dedication to a life of learning. He is also survived by his daughter-in-law, Amy, and sisters, Mary Ellen and Nora Jane. He leaves behind a lasting impact on the fields of architecture, design, urban planning, and technology but more importantly with friends and colleagues around the world. Ed will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him, but his contributions to various fields and friendships will be remembered for generations to come.