Born in New York, John grew up in Portland, Ore. At Princeton, where his father, John C. Beatty Jr. was in the Class of ’41, John majored in mathematics and then earned a doctorate in computer science at the University of California, Berkeley.
After working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a mathematical programmer and computer scientist, he joined the faculty of the University of Waterloo in Ontario in 1978 and served there until 2010, when he moved to British Columbia.
His friends accepted his many eccentricities: his love of Sherlock Holmes capes; Tilley hats; Birkenstock sandals worn with socks; and his ever-present Swiss Army knife. Always a tinkerer, he took delight in automating all kinds of things. During a two-year leave from teaching, he served in the Peace Corps in Malawi, where he helped introduce computers into the local school system.
Accomplished in fencing, he continued his interest in the sport after Princeton and fenced competitively. He also coached the fencing club at the University of Waterloo. He was an avid fan of Linda Ronstadt, an enthusiastic consumer of good wine and food, and devoted to the poodles he enjoyed greatly.
John is survived by his sister, Clarissa; her husband; and a nephew.