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Yale 62

Anthony 'Tony' Church Ellsworth Scoville

Tony ScovilleBORN: January 17, 1940
DIED: October 13, 2019

Tony died at his hilltop home in Salisbury. CT, where he’d lived full time since 2004 when he retired from Washington, DC.

After Andover, at Yale he roomed with Gates Gill and Ellis Wisner. He was on the Berkeley tennis team and majored in Political Science, minoring in Physics. He received an MS from the University of Pennsylvania in Operations Research and served as a Science Fellow for Congressman George E. Brown, Jr. He was the Technical Consultant to the Subcommittee on Science, Research and Technology of the House of Representatives. He worked on nuclear waste management and innovation in long-term planning. He was a freelance writer. He was a Renaissance man – alongside his professional pursuits he designed and built “Corbu,” a Corbusier-style house in Vermont that is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. In 1991, his decades-long exploration of the irreversibility of time in the laws of physics resulted in “Some Properties of the Random Universe,” an article in which he posited that the observable universe is essentially a computer, and the dark matter making up most of the universe’s mass is a by-product of the continuing computation of one instant’s state into the next.

Tony wrote generously and extensively in each or our class books, describing his interests, his work and his family, revealing a charming, broad and very witty cast of mind. Here are some excerpts.

From 1987: “I have just learned to fly a plane. The children love it. There’s a whole magnificent world up there!”

From 2002: “The 15 years since our last book have been glorious…. Turning 50 was a liberation when no sign of abatement at 62. I have found my voice…. But there IS more. Lots more!!! Helen and I run a chamber music series in our house. …It is amazing to hear Beethoven, Schobert as well as solo recitals played by the finest performers just a few feet away in your own house while sipping champagne in the company of friends!… In 1999 my own piano compositions were recorded on the Maestoso label and performed as part of our new music series.”

In 2012, he wrote a long and eloquent summation of a happy, fulfilled and wide-ranging life, as well as a perceptive overview of fifty of years scientific and other changes and increases in knowledge and understanding For a boost to your day, I strongly recommend you have a look at his entry in our 50th reunion book. Just a couple of quick quotes: “What Scully taught us really works!… Almost the entire universe is beyond the comprehension of rational finitely expressible laws…. The undecidable is the source of everything; it draws the evolution of the universe ever onward as it adds new properties and forces.”

From his lifelong friend and roommate Ellis Wisner: “I first knew Tony in the fourth grade at St. Albans School and was intrigued by his having a pet skunk at the time. We were classmates from grades 4-8 there… I owe much to Tony’s broad range of ideas. He persuaded me try keeping up with many scientific developments even though I often was not sure I understood much of what he thought, and I kept him interested in aspects of ancient Greek and Roman literature and history. As regards music, he introduced me, among other things, to listening to operas of Richard Wagner, and many years later he kindly took me to a performance of Parsifal at the Met for my 60th birthday. I miss him already more than I can say.”

Tony is survived by his wife, Helen, and his four children: Adam and his wife, Stephane, and children Annalise and Aaron; Orlena and her partner, Patrick Lannister; and Avery and his wife Sarah and children, Talon and Zinnia.

— John Harger Stewart

(With help from the notice)