In Memory of




Obituary for Robert J. Pawlak

Robert “Bob” J. Pawlak of Lexington, MA died on July 6, 2023. Born in Chicago on Sept 10, 1936, Bob earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from IIT in 1958, graduating first in his ME class. He received his MS and Engineering degrees in ME from MIT.

Bob first worked at MIT Instrumentation Lab in automatic control engineering and later at the Cambridge-based Volpe National Transportation Systems Center as an air and rail transit engineer until his retirement in 2000. He also taught a robotics class at UMass Lowell.

Bob was an accomplished model railroader. His award-winning (Best of Show three times of 350 modules at the Capitol Limited N Scale East Convention in Chantilly, VA) “Bridges Canyon” module was a 12 foot, 6-level mountain division Ngauge railroad which included nine scratch-built bridges spanning a canyon river and numerous tunnels. His module used Digital Command Control and a microprocessor for lighting. Bob enjoyed bringing his “Bridges Canyon” railroad to train shows as a member of the Northeast NTrak model railroad club and particularly liked running multiple long trains simultaneously.

He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Marilyn Swift Pawlak, 3 children: Julie (John) Carney of Lexington; Amy (John) Morawiec of So. Windsor, CT; and Becky (Jared) Burdin of Westford. His oldest daughter Mary died of cancer in 1993 at the age of 27. He also leaves 11 grandchildren: Mary, Sophia and Katherine Carney; Theresa, Christina and Emily Morawiec; and Peter, William, Joseph, Anna and Matthew Burdin.

With his children and grandchildren, Bob loved playing cards and board games, building sandcastles with tunnels, sailing and water skiing at Cape Cod and downhill skiing in NH. He liked cheering for his family at sport competitions and games. He liked doing KenKen puzzles and jigsaw puzzles. Flying model airplanes was another hobby, unfortunately curtailed by numerous destructive plane crashes.

Always an engineer, Bob was endlessly curious as to how things worked and was adept at repairing most anything, often with Rube Goldberg cleverness.

Bob was a daily communicant for 65 years and a supernumerary member of Opus Dei, faithfully observing daily norms.

Bob’s family will greet relatives and friends at St. Brigid Church, 1981 Mass. Ave. in Lexington, beginning at 9:30 am on Wednesday, July 12. Funeral Mass will be at 10 am, followed by a burial at Westview Cemetery in Lexington. A reception in Bob’s memory will be held at the home of John and Julie Carney, 3 McKeever Drive in Lexington, at 12 noon.