Published in The Seattle Times on 17 June 2012, his well written obituary is a testament to his intelligence and determination:
Grant West Erwin, Jr., son of Grant West Erwin and Helen Armstrong Erwin, born June 30, 1918 in Chicago, died of pneumonia June 12, 2012 in Salem, Oregon. He was a pioneer of programming at Boeing Computer Services, where he worked from 1957 to 1986, and contributed to the early development of computer-aided design. He continued to take up new interests throughout his life, including at various times mountain climbing, skiing, marathon running, and wine-making. Always a fitness enthusiast, he was working out with a personal trainer until a few months before his death. He was a keen supporter of the opera, the symphony, and above all the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, for which he volunteered countless hours in his retirement years. He will also be fondly remembered by his poker club, the Puget Sound Probability and Chowder Society.
Grant grew up in Minneapolis and Milwaukee and was educated at West High School, Minneapolis, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Washington. His college experience was rudely interrupted by World War II. After a brief stint on a battleship in 1940, he failed the physical examination and left the Navy. In 1941 he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and served as a navigator with the RAF in Britain and India, transferring to the Army Air Corps in 1943. On his 31st mission over Burma he was shot down and survived 18 months in Japanese prison camps, being liberated from the infamous Rangoon Jail in Rangoon, Burma in May, 1945. He returned to a family that had believed him dead, having received the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart. He was nominated for the Silver Star. As a navigator for Northwest Airlines after the war, Grant participated in the Korean airlift. He married Betty Louise Koch, MD, an anesthesiologist and writer, of Berlin, Wisconsin, in 1950. He continued to fly for Northwest until 1957, when he became a mathematician for Boeing Computer Services. In 1952 Grant and Betty followed Northwest Airlines to its new headquarters in Seattle, where they raised their six children, moving in 1961 to their big old house on Capitol Hill, memorialized in Betty's book Go to the Room of the Eyes, the best known of her six novels for children.
Grant is survived by his second wife, Marion Brady Embick, a lawyer, of Salem, Oregon, whom he married in 1997; his children Alice, Grant, Victoria, Anne, Daniel, and Helen; his grandchildren Alexandra Erwin France, Nicholas Erwin, Sophia, Emily, and Peter Schinske, and Julia Erwin; his sister, Barbara Erwin Stangl Edmonds, of Tucson; his cousin William W. Erwin, of Milwaukee; and fourteen nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Betty, and their son John. A memorial in Seattle is planned at a later date. Donations to Planned Parenthood in lieu of flowers, please.