Henry Miranda is keeping busy during the months of sheltering at home, insulating against the coronavirus Covid-19.
He is writing a book.
That shouldn’t be a surprise, actually. Dr. Miranda, who recently marked his 96th birthday, is an authentic Renaissance man.
He designed the house where he and his wife Cecile have resided since 1966. He has been writing music since his college days and studied at the Longy School in Cambridge well into his 70s. He holds several patents and helped design a camera that accompanied a space shuttle.
And for more than two decades, he was well known in Bedford for his town meeting oratory, presenting fiscally conservative positions with a style and vocabulary not often seen or heard during the municipal business meeting.
“For the last four or five years, I have been writing a book about Catholicism. It is called The Richness of Our Faith,” he said. He is in no rush to finish – “The good Lord is keeping me here for some reason.”
The Mirandas weren’t high-school sweethearts, although they attended the same school in Eastchester, NY, one year apart – classes of 1941 and 1942. Henry said his first job, right out of high school, was at his uncle’s artificial flower factory in New York.
Henry attended Columbia University at night until he joined the Army in 1943. After nine months in California as part of a special project, he spent the rest of World War II as a teletype operator in western Europe and Germany. “Every day, seven days a week, all day long there was a pile of letters, most of them classified,” he recalled.
Beginning in 1946, taking advantage of the GI Bill, Henry stayed close to home, earning his undergraduate degree at Iona College and his doctorate at Fordham University, both in physics. His mentor at Fordham was the renowned Prof. Victor Francis Hess, Nobel laureate in 1936, who discovered cosmic radiation.
The Mirandas were married in 1950, in Tuckahoe, NY. They moved to Bedford in 1966, and still reside in their first home here on Old Stagecoach Road, and in August they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
Dr. Miranda’s first position in Bedford was with the former Geophysics Corporation of America (GCA) on Route 62. In 1973 he and two colleagues, Carl Accardo and John Dulchinos, founded Epsilon Laboratories on Wiggins Avenue.
“We had a lot of fun – and several accomplishments,” Henry said. In addition to developing several commercial photographic technologies, Epsilon engaged in geophysical research and defense contracting.
The firm developed a payload instrument carried aboard the second mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia in November 1981 to monitor shuttle-induced contaminants that might adversely affect delicate infrared imaging systems carried on board.
“When we broke up the company, we had several Air Force contracts I was working on. That became Miranda Labs. I developed several other things on my own.” After more than 30 years, “today Miranda Labs are in my living room,” Dr.Miranda smiled.
Henry’s town meeting perorations still evoke vivid memories among longtime voters. “I stood up and shot my mouth off,” he laughed. “I did a lot of reading, and I was facile with the language. When the opportunity arose, I just used it.” He was also the author of frequent letters to the editor in the Bedford Minuteman in those days.
In the late 1970s, a landmark grass-roots movement to statutorily control local real estate taxes built momentum in the state, culminating with the passage of the law known as Proposition 2 ½ in 1980. The driving force was an organization called Citizens for Limited Taxation, and Dr. Miranda used his talents to promote the cause. “I spoke all over eastern Massachusetts, he recalled.” My message was, “When you’re in a position of power, it’s easy to spend other people’s money.”
“One of the arguments I made was if we are developing high technology in Massachusetts but we can’t afford to hire people, we are not going to be able to advance.”
As recently as a decade ago, he was still tinkering and still finding different ways to advance. Applying for another patent, “I thought my lawyers were being overly responsive to the need to protect me, as though I had invented the laser,” he laughed. After the application was rejected a few times, he surmised that there was too much detail in the patent claims – defining what needs protection. “So I wrote my own claims and gave them to the lawyer – and I got the patent.”
About a year later, an inventor visited Miranda Labs with a device that secured street-level windows. “He found out I was able to get my patent by submitting my own claims, so he asked me to write his.” Bypassing the attorneys paid off again – and the inventor “came to me and said, ‘I’m going to give you 50 percent of the profits.’
The Mirandas have two children: Dr. Rick Miranda, a professor who spent 10 years as provost and executive vice president of Colorado State University, and Martha Liquori, president of Goodwear USA, a clothing manufacturer in the area. There are four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Dr. Miranda is deeply religious, and he finds that entirely consistent with his academic and professional history. “Science is all part of religion, through a word called ‘truth,’” he observed. “God is the highest truth; His being is through our minds.”