Hudson – Roland Leo Plante, 91, of Hudson, MA, died on his beloved wife Nancy’s birthday Thursday, February 16, 2023 at his residence in Hudson, MA. He was predeceased by his wife of 27 years Nancy Lee (Schwarz) Plante in 1983.
He is survived by his two daughters, Nancy Toll and her husband Harry of Tucson, AZ and Lisa Plante of Berthoud, CO; his son, Mark Plante and his wife Meg of Marlborough, MA; his grandchildren Emma, Jessica and Harrison Toll, Molly and Madyson Plante, Katelyn (Geoff) Noyes and Michael Kelly. He also leaves his two great-grandchildren Eralin and Artemis Noyes; his two brothers David Plante of Lucca, Italy and Lenard Plante and his wife Jean of Newburyport, MA along with many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. He was predeceased by 4 of his 6 brothers Robert, Donald, Raymond and Renee.
Roland was born and raised in Providence, RI, the fourth of seven sons of the late Anaclet “Pete” Plante and the late Albina Marie (Bisson). He attended Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School in Providence and graduated from Lasalle Academy in Providence as the Class Valedictorian in 1949. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1953. He served in the U.S. Air Force as a First Lieutenant and jet pilot from 1953 until being honorably discharged in 1956. He continued his education at Northeastern University and received a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1963.
Roland began his long career as an engineer with Draper Labs in 1957 optimizing the functionality of weaving looms and then at United Research in Boston, MA from 1959-1964 researching sound and its use in sonar for the US Navy.
He found his professional niche as an Optical Engineer at ITEK Corpora\on in Lexington, MA where he worked from 1964-2000. He played a key role in developing a panoramic camera for the Viking Explorer which took the first pictures of Mars in 1976. He was awarded patents in 1986 and 1987 for his work designing and building mirrors for telescopes. The first patent was for a “Variable Thickness Deformable Mirror” design and the second for “Vibration Isolators or Actuators for a Segmented Mirror”. The lazer concept is known as Adaptive Optics which, as he liked to describe it, “takes the twinkle out of the stars”. In the early 90s, Roland was part of the team that developed a Deformable/Fast Steering Mirror for the Ballistic Missile Defense Zenith Star Program. Prior to fully re\ring in 2010, he worked as a consultant for Xinetics Co. in Fort Devens, MA.
In October 1955, Roland married Nancy Lee Schwarz “the love of his life” in Valdosta, GA where he was serving in the US Air Force. Upon his discharge, they moved to Massachusetts settling in Hudson in 1958.
Roland took great pride in the community and served on many boards and committees throughout the years. As a member of the former Christ the King Parish, he served as President of the Holy Ghost Society; in 1968, he chaired the Hudson Boy’s Club building campaign fund and was asked to be a Director of the Hudson Cooperative Bank; from 1961-1969, he served on the Hudson Finance Committee and was Chair from 1966-1969; he was elected a Town
Selectman from 1969-1975 and chaired the Board from 1971-1975. He was a member of the Hudson Town Charter Commission. He served as a Director of the Hudson Light and Power Board from 1976-2021. Roland was proud that he was a member of this Board when they approved the purchase of 40 year bonds for a stake in the Seabrook Nuclear Power plant in New Hampshire and was still on the board when they retired the bonds 40 years later.
After he retired, Roland was a volunteer at Marlborough Hospital logging 670 hours from 2011-2015. He was a board member of the St. Vincent De Paul Society at St. Michael’s Parish in Hudson and a board member of the Lewis Dewart Apsley Fund.
He enjoyed golfing with his longtime golf group, sharing good books with neighbors and building cherry furniture (which, ever the engineer, he measured with a micrometer!). He could not tell a joke without laughing himself, played a mean harmonica and sang a lovely “Alouette”. He enjoyed his weekly coffees after Sunday Mass at Mark and Meg’s home as well as innumerable Patriot football games there.
Dad filled his life with service to others personally, professionally and publicly. He was always polite, humble, kind and loyal – a truly gentle man who was always a gentleman.
A Celebration of Roland’s life will be held at the Tighe Hamilton Regional Funeral Home, 50 Central Street, Hudson, MA on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at 12:00 PM. Family and friends may attend a period of visitation from 10:00AM to 12:00 PM prior to the service. Committal services will be held privately at the convenience of the family.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Roland may be made to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research at www.michaeljfox.org.