Marie Beverly (Johnson) Kotik died June 26 at home in Chestnut Hill, MA. She was 96.
Marie was born Nov. 24, 1923 in Harlem, New York city, to Dr. Douglas Beverly Johnson, of Petersburg, Va., and Myrtle Capehart Johnson, of Raleigh, N.C. She was the second of three daughters. She lost her older sister and father before she was two years old, and her mother then took her and her newborn sister to live with her parents in Raleigh. They stayed for 10 years then moved back to their home in New York city where Marie attended high school and college at Hunter.
Education was a high priority in the family, and early on Marie was recognized as an exceptional student and gifted in mathematics. At Hunter College she was named to Phi Beta Kappa, and was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. While getting her bachelor’s degree in math she worked in research at the Courant Institute at NYU. In 1944 she entered graduate school at Radcliffe College in mathematics, completing her master’s in one semester, and starting her PhD.
In addition to being a brilliant mathematician in her own right, she was a peer and friend of some of the brightest mathematical minds of the post-war generation — Marvin Minsky, John Nash, and others. She was introduced to Jack Kotik, a fellow mathematician and PhD candidate at MIT, by a mutual friend from New York, Sidney Diamond. On May 28, 1950, Jack and Marie were married at Harvard Chapel, and a year later she gave birth to the first of what would be five sons and a daughter.
During her early married years Marie worked for the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories managing defense research contracts, and was known for personally checking every single equation that was published by her group. Those were busy years as the family grew and moved from Cambridge to Arlington, then to Forest Hills and later Syosset, N.Y., on Long Island. They settled near Marie’s sister, Dr. DB Newstein, and her family.
In those years Marie was engaged full-time as a mother of six; she was a boy scout and 4-H troop leader, and a PTO member. She presided over a teeming household of rambunctious children, friends, music, many pets and a garden where she grew vegetables and fruits. As her youngest child left for college in September 1981, Marie flew to Charlotte, N.C. to welcome her second grandchild of what would eventually be 16 in all.
In 1987 Marie and Jack built a home in Oak Bluffs, near Marie’s mother and step-father, Dr Maurice Howard, who had retired there. She and Jack were able, finally, to travel at will, and she had endless curiosity to see new places. She continued to travel for many years including going by herself on a 35-day cruise to China and Japan when she was 85. She enjoyed cruising for both the “shining sea days,” and even the stormiest days that most passengers barely tolerated.
She loved being a grandmother and gathering the family year-round on the Vineyard, where her passion for cooking was shared and passed on. She was a talented knitter, creating intricate sweaters for her grandchildren that are cherished. She was especially excited to be present at the birth of her daughter’s twin boys in Boston in July 2000.
In 2003 Marie and Jack found a home in Chestnut Hill, near their daughter and youngest son, and this became another center of family gatherings. They hosted family reunions and house concerts featuring professional musicians. They met monthly for science dinners in Cambridge at their favorite Chinese restaurant near MIT, with some of their old friends from graduate school days.
Her sharp wit shone even brighter during her last years, giving those around her many reasons to laugh throughout her extended time in hospice care (Good Shepherd). She and Jack celebrated their 70th anniversary in May 2020, in which the extended family (by video due to the pandemic) as well as their closest friend and matchmaker, Dr. Sidney Diamond, were delighted to wish them joy.
At home, some weeks later, she died peacefully, surrounded by loving family and deeply committed caregivers.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by her children: Philip and his wife Pam, Vincent, Gordon and his wife Joni, Katherine Marie and her husband Andy, and Alan. Her eldest son, Paul predeceased her in 2019. Her grandchildren are: Lior, Meytal, Maxwell, Ilona, Griffin, Mallory, Victoria, Sophie, Peter, Chloe, Andy, Ben, Owen, Terran, Hadas and Natan. She is also mourned by her nephews David and Michael Newstein, and Michael’s wife Laura.
Arrangements are incomplete but the family hope to establish an educational gift in her name.
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