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John N. Shutt

Computer scientist, avid reader, pianist

John Shutt. (Courtesy photo)

Lifelong resident John Nathan Shutt died suddenly on Feb. 24, 2021. He was 56 years old.

John attended the Bromfield School before earning his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and doctorate in computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. His dissertation explored abstraction theory via the Kernel programming language, a Lisp-based language he created for his dissertation work.

A volunteer editor and administrator for Wikinews and Wikibooks, John peer-reviewed and published more than 1,000 articles and made over 160,000 edits and 120,000 log entries on Wikinews. He was fascinated with constructing or creating languages in general and contributed to Wikibooks on the topic. John also blogged on other topics, including the relativity-quantum split, the evolution of sapient thought, and the development of language.

John loved Harvard and often said he wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. He attended every Annual Town Meeting and Special Town Meeting from the age of 18 until the COVID-19 pandemic. He helped his father, longtime Planning Board member Phil Shutt, with various mapping projects focused on Harvard town history. John could quote passages from Henry Nourse’s “History of the Town of Harvard, Massachusetts: 1732-1893,” and had detailed knowledge about Harvard’s geography, including the exact location of the town boundaries, which he walked with his father a number of times.

John played the piano; he especially liked to play Scott Joplin’s ragtime. He was an avid reader, with interests ranging from science fiction to linguistics. John and his mother, Elsie, did the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle together every week. He adored his cat, Pickles.

He is survived by his mother, Elsie Shutt of Harvard; his sister Barbara Shutt and niece Hannah Shutt of Waterville, Maine; and his brother David Shutt of Seattle, Washington. He was predeceased by his father, Phil Shutt.

Services will be private. Those wishing to make a donation may donate to a charity of their choice.

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