An Appreciation: Robert Michaud

Compiled by The Bedford Citizen

Robert Michaud in his E-Type Jaguar - Courtesy Photo
Robert Michaud in his E-Type Jaguar – Courtesy Photo

Area vintage and classic automobile enthusiasts knew Bedford’s Robert (Bob) Michaud through his long-time participation in the activities of the Larz Anderson Automobile Museum and as the owner of a beautiful British Racing Green Jaguar E-Type OTS.  Professional colleagues knew him as a clever engineer and good businessman. Members of various semi-professional choruses knew him as a terrific singer. Friends will remember Bob for his wry sense of humor and his ability to launch puns into conversations when listeners least expected them. He will also be remembered for his love of traveling, taking photographs, sailing, swimming, and spending time with his family in Bedford and in the warm waters of Buzzard’s Bay.

Robert Michaud died on February 7, 2014 after a long illness and complications from a fall. He is survived by his wife of sixty years Ellen, his daughters Elizabeth and Virginia, and his grandson Ted.

A memorial service in celebration of his life will be held on Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 1:30 PM at the First Parish Unitarian Church, 75 The Great Road in Bedford. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations in Bob’s memory to the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, WCRB 99.5 Classical Radio, or the Bedford Historical Society.

Born in 1925 and raised in Salem, MA, Bob Michaud’s roots were French Canadian — he was the son of Romeo “Bill” Michaud of Quebec and Elizabeth (Boudreau) Michaud of Nova Scotia. In high school, Bob was an honors student and captain of the track team; he also participated enthusiastically in musical theatre.

Bob attended Bowdoin College, and during WWII he entered the Navy V-12 officer training program at Bates College before serving aboard the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB/CVA/CV-42). Through the V-12 program, he earned BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

After graduating from MIT Bob worked on the RAYDAC, a one-of-a-kind computer that Raytheon started in 1949 and finished in 1953 when it was installed at the Naval Air Missile Test Center at Point Mugu, California. Bob and other members of the RAYDAC team later cofounded Computer Control Corporation, a seminal organization in the development of computer controls for Navy missiles in the early 1950’s.

The family returned to Massachusetts where Bob cofounded Keymatch, Inc., a company that pioneered advances in the use of bar codes in supermarkets, and Easel Corporation where he designed an early model of the touch screen.

Bob Michaud loved music and singing his whole life. Along with several solo performances, he sang with a Gilbert and Sullivan choral group, the Chorus Pro Musica and the choir at Boston’s Church of the Advent. While singing in the Advent choir, he met his future wife Ellen, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, who was working as the window display designer at Filene’s Department Store in downtown Boston.

While living in Southern California, Bob and Ellen were members of the Sports Car Club of America where they participated in rallies, served as corner workers at race tracks, and generally enjoyed the local SoCal sports car scene. Among their Santa Monica friends and neighbors was noted racing driver Phil Hill, who stored his C-Type Jaguar in their garage.

After returning to Massachusetts, Bob was an enthusiastic member and supporter of the Larz Anderson Automobile Museum in Brookline where he served as a Trustee and as Chairman of the Exhibit Committee. A driving force both in shaping the Museum’s message and conveying it to the public, Bob also researched the provenance of various parts of the collection, formulated much of the explanatory text for the exhibits, and organized many of the Museum’s signature Lawn Events such as British Car Day. The museum’s Board of Directors recognized his invaluable service by awarding him a Lifetime Membership.

Over the years, Bob and Ellen owned several beautiful cars, including a 1950 Jaguar Mark V Drop Head, a Ferrari Lusso coupe and a Jaguar E-Type Roadster, all of which were enthusiastically driven.  Bob and Ellen loved driving their E-Type and showing it at British Car Day.  That E-Type was unusual in that it had triple Weber carburetors replacing the original dual Strombergs, and was a potent machine indeed.

Their Mark V Jaguar was selected as the picture of the month for September in the official Jaguar calendar of 1999. The photo has an elegant Beacon Hill setting featuring Ellen and the Jaguar.  Bob wasn’t in the picture because he was behind the camera!

Ellen Michaud, posing with the Jaguar Mark V on Beacon Hill - Courtesy image
Jaguar Club calendar for September, 1999: Ellen Michaud, posing with the family’s 1950 Jaguar Mark V on Beacon Hill – Courtesy image

Ed. Note: The Bedford Citizen thanks the Michaud family, Richard Warrington and Carl Hanson for their help in compiling this appreciation.


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