MITRE Mourns the Passing of Former CEO Robert Everett

August 16, 2018

The MITRE community is saddened to announce that Robert R. Everett, a pioneer in the field of electrical engineering and former President and CEO of The MITRE Corporation, passed away on August 15 on Cape Cod, Mass. He was 97.

Everett served as president and CEO of MITRE from April 1969 to July 1986. His leadership tenure was marked by sustained growth and change for the company, founded in 1958 to take over groundbreaking work from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Lincoln Lab. During Everett’s time as president, MITRE was one of 16 recipients of the Air Force Pioneer Award, which honored outstanding organizations that have made significant contributions to the Air Force.

From MIT to MITRE

Born on June 26, 1921, in Yonkers, New York, Everett graduated from Duke University in 1942. In 1943, he received a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from MIT. While at MIT, Everett helped lead two of the projects that formed the basis for MITRE’s earliest work: the Whirlwind digital computer and the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) air defense system design and test project.

Everett joined MITRE at its inception and became the company's first technical director, rising to become the first vice president of technical operations the following year. In 1969 he was named MITRE’s first executive vice president; he became president later that same year when John McLucas left to become Undersecretary of the Air Force.

Under Everett’s leadership, MITRE expanded its technical program and expertise beyond the original mission of helping the Air Force implement SAGE. During this period, MITRE began to work for additional organizations within the Department of Defense, as well as other government entities, including the Federal Aviation Administration and several education, health, and social agencies.

Everett received many awards and commendations for his scientific work, including the Duke University Distinguished Alumnus Award (1978); the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service (1983); the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Gold Medal Award for Engineering (1985); and the National Medal of Technology (1990). Throughout his career he served on several government advisory committees, including a term as chairman of the Defense Science Board from 1988 to 1989. His research has been published in numerous technical journals, and he was awarded several patents in the fields of magnetic drum memories and display devices.

Within MITRE, Everett's management philosophy was well known for its simplicity: “Good people make a great organization, which gets good jobs, which attract good people.”

In 2012, the company recognized Everett's pivotal role in the evolution of digital computing and his contributions to MITRE by dedicating a state-of-the art laboratory facility to him in Bedford, Mass. He continued to serve as a MITRE Honorary Trustee until his death.

Honoring Robert Everett

Everett leaves behind his wife, Ann T. Everett; sons Robert, Bruce, Ted, Doug, Michael, and David; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations (in the form of a check) can be made to the Robert R. and Ann T. Everett Endowment Fund at Duke University. The fund’s purpose is to keep undergraduate laboratory facilities in the Edmund T. Pratt School of Engineering fully equipped with appropriate teaching and research instrumentation. Please mail contributions to the Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University, 305 Teer Engineering Building, Box 90271, Durham, NC 27708.

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