Edward Agro

August 14, 1938 ~ May 26, 2020 (age 81)



AGRO, Edward Robert Carl Phillip of Randolph, MA passed away on May 26, 2020.  He was 81 years old. He was born in Brooklyn, NY, to Joseph and Lydia (Melina) Agro, second generation immigrants of Italian descent.  He grew up in several states as part of a military family with a father who served in WWII and Korea.  Ed, as he liked to be called, settled in the Boston area after graduating, on full scholarship, from MIT with a BS in Physics.  He was a scientist, an artist, an activist and most of all, a humanitarian with strong spiritual, moral and ethical beliefs that guided him throughout his life.  He eschewed materialism and was quite happy with few possessions.  First ensuring his children had what they needed, he often gave away what he did have for a cause or to someone less fortunate.  

When he was 27, his body became confined to a wheelchair, but graced with an indomitable spirit, he proceeded to live his life to the fullest and on his own terms.  He spent his career at the MIT Press, editing math and science textbooks, dictionaries, and encyclopedias.  He committed his life to social justice, and was a founding and active member of the New England War Tax Resistance and believed strongly in conscientious objection.   He traveled the world via his mind and computer engaging in many social justice activities that included helping families communicate and reunite during the Bosnian War.  He joined the Search for Artificial Intelligence, edited Wikipedia, served on the Resident Advisory Board of the Boston Housing Authority, and memorized poems that were recited to family and friends.  He loved boats, trains and planes, to sail and spend time with his family.  He was an accomplished artist- many of his paintings adorn the walls in the homes of family and friends.  Over espresso, he enjoyed long conversations on politics, idealism, technology, literature, and etiquette, often asking questions to elicit self-reflection.  He exemplified joie de vivre.

He shared many wondrous things with his daughters - midnight comet viewings, good and bad movies at MIT, paintings at the MFA, insects (which he would never kill; only observe alive or if already dead) under a homemade microscope, fishing for Calamari, sailing in the Boston Harbor, and the folk/anti-war/civil rights music of the 1960s sung and played on his guitar.  As a child, he enlisted his younger brother, often as the subject, in varied science experiments.  He was gentler with his sisters, always lending an ear when needed.  He was a devoted brother, father and grandfather who never let his physical limitations interfere with the experiences he shared with his family- but also sorely wished he could do so much more with his grandchildren as he aged.  His physical presence will be forever missed - his spirit was recently beheld diving in and out of the clouds in a small plane over his brother’s farm, Festina Lente.  Ci vediamo, Papà.

Devoted father of Lydia Agro of Milton, Jessica Buonagurio & her husband Mark of Hingham.  Loving grandfather of Joseph & Andrew DeAscentis and Brian Buonagurio.  Brother of Robert Agro of Brooksville, FL, Angela Schimelman & her husband David of Plano, TX, Sr. Joan Agro of Orangeburg, NY, and Eileen Agro of Port Richey, FL.. Former husband of Sally (Nystedt) (Agro) Ridley. Also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Funeral Service and Interment Private. In lieu of flowers to the family, donations in memory of Edward may be made to Union of Concerned Scientists - alternatively flowers may be sent to his nurse Carol, whom Ed called “a regular Salvation Army,” and medical team at the Harbor Health Service Plan at 1135 Morton Street, Mattapan, MA 02126.  The NEWTR historical documents preserved by Ed will be donated by the family for public use. Pictures of Ed can be viewed at

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