During his decades as an engineer and scientist, Edward J. Boudreau helped improve colonoscopy equipment, fine-tune satellites, and measure the distance from Earth to the moon.
“He would never say, ‘Well, there’s nothing we can do about this,’ ” said Carol Gaudette of Rockport, Mr. Boudreau’s partner for more than 20 years. “He’d think it out, draw it out, wake up in the night with a solution.”
Mr. Boudreau, who worked for the Arthur D. Little consulting firm in Cambridge for nearly 40 years, died of aspiration pneumonia Jan. 1 in Beverly Hospital. He was 90 and had lived in Arlington most of his life, though for the past 20 years he divided his time between there and Rockport.
Al Wechsler of Winchester, a former senior vice president at Arthur D. Little, said that Mr. Boudreau was a dedicated engineer who spent long hours working on his projects.
“Ed never did anything halfway,” Wechsler said. “He really devoted himself to any project he was working on.”
While at Arthur D. Little, Mr. Boudreau was a senior lab associate and engineer and later a consultant.
In the late 1960s and early ’70s, Weschler said, Mr. Boudreau and others at Arthur D. Little constructed a retroreflector array that was put on the moon during an Apollo mission. A laser signal sent from Earth would hit the retroreflector and the signal would subsequently return to Earth. Using this device, scientists could measure the distance.
Wechsler said Mr. Boudreau also participated in a National Aeronautics and Space Administration heat flow experiment by helping to build what was essentially a giant thermometer that was placed in a hole drilled by Apollo astronauts on the moon’s surface. It measured temperatures at several depths, as well as the heat flow from the interior to the surface.
Another notable project Mr. Boudreau worked on at Arthur D. Little was the development and construction of radiative coolers for the detection and communications systems of satellites. Mr. Boudreau also helped to improve the control mechanism for colonoscopies.
Paul Boudreau of St. Charles, Mo., who is on the St. Louis Rams coaching staff, said his father taught him that “you really have to work hard in life, nothing is going to be given to you, and the satisfaction you get from helping someone else is more valuable than anything else you get in compensation.”
He said that even when Mr. Boudreau was in his later years, he was a “young 90-year-old” who could strike a conversation with anyone.
“It didn’t matter where or when, he was going to have fun,” Mr. Boudreau’s son said. His father, he added, “was always a kidder.”
Mr. Boudreau also forged a unique connection with each of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who called him Pa or Pa the Great.
His other son, Edward Jr. of Winchester, said Mr. Boudreau often expressed his affection for others by doing something for them, such as when he cut down trees in a neighbor’s yard that needed removal.
“If he liked you as a person, he would seek out ways of helping you,” Edward Jr. said.
Mr. Boudreau was born in Cumberland, R.I., to Phillipe and Isabelle (Miller) Boudreau .
When Mr. Boudreau was young, his mother suffered a stroke and could not care for her children. Mr. Boudreau was sent to Arlington to live with an aunt and uncle, and he attended Boston Trade High School.
During World War II, Mr. Boudreau served with the US Army Air Corps in Guam, where he was a flight engineer on B-29 planes.
After the war, he graduated from Northeastern University with a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
In addition to his career at Arthur D. Little, Mr. Boudreau spent more than 10 years as a lab instructor, senior lab associate, and adjunct professor at Harvard University’s engineering graduate program.
He met Anella Sakowich while swimming in Walden Pond in Concord, and they married in 1943. She died in 1971.
Mr. Boudreau liked to take his dogs for walks, his family said, and was so gentle that birds and other animals would often take food from his hand. A football fan, he also made a point of watching televised games featuring teams for which his son Paul coached.
In addition to his sons, Mr. Boudreau leaves four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Gaudette said she could rely on Mr. Boudreau to fix anything, whether a television, a computer, or a washing machine. Her neighbors knew him as someone who was more than willing to remedy any problem.
Gaudette said that although in a sense “we were an odd couple, in that we were political opposites,” Mr. Boudreau was her “best friend forever.”
“We were just extraordinary friends to each other,” she said, “and what more can you ask for in life?”