Roy Mankovitz, whose wide-ranging interests led him into highly successful careers in such diverse fields as rocket science, law, engineering, and health care, and who, as an entrepreneur and life-long inventor, is named on more than 60 patents, died suddenly Sunday, July 10, at his Birnam Wood home in Montecito. He had lived in Montecito since 2004 with his wife, Kathleen Barry, PhD, a local psychotherapist.
Beginning right after graduating from Columbia University in 1963 with a degree in electrical engineering, Mankovitz entered the fast-growing world of rocket science. At Rocketdyne, he developed engine-control systems for unmanned spacecraft before moving to Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where he directed advanced technical studies in spacecraft attitude-control systems, celestial sensors, and onboard computers. While at JPL, he also designed computer simulations for soft-landing Mars vehicles and authored numerous computer programs and technical papers in the field of rocket science.
With a unique set of technical skills, Mankovitz earned a law degree and practiced in the highly specialized field of copyright, trademark, and patent law. As a result of his extraordinary success, his top clients sought his expertise on a full-time basis to grow their international businesses. At Gemstar-TV Guide, which he joined in 1991, he was instrumental in the launch of the company’s first product, VCR Plus, and, as intellectual property counsel, developed its licensing program, which is still in place today. He also assisted in taking the company public.
After selling his electronic patents to a consortium funded by a number of Fortune 500 companies, Mankovitz concentrated for the next 20 years on what became both his hobby and his passion, devising ways to prevent illness and to remain healthy. Drawing on his lifetime of experiences, he authored the book A Rocket Scientist’s Blueprint for Health, an exposition of his original theories on the prevention and reversal of illness. The book offers a blueprint for health based on using nature as the template and includes a diet plan, detoxification program, and suggested changes in lifestyle. Mankovitz’s life-long interest in health education led him to fund research at UC Santa Barbara’s Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology.
Mankovitz was currently one of four founders of yet another venture—WebTuner—creating an Internet-delivered, next-generation, pay-TV platform. He served as general counsel and chief strategy officer, bringing his years of Gemstar and intellectual property expertise to bear on the evolving television landscape.
He was also serving as vice chair of the Board of Trustees of Antioch University Santa Barbara, and his many contributions to Antioch were immeasurable.
Mankovitz was director of Montecito Wellness LLC, cofounded with Kathleen and was a board-certified holistic health practitioner. He served on the boards of several health-related organizations, including the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation.
His incredible range of interests does not begin to tell the story. He had the warmest heart and was the most positive and generous man you could ever hope to meet. There was nothing and no one he touched without making a lasting impact. His diverse talents made him invaluable to colleagues in every field he entered, and he helped break new ground in all of them.
Roy was the son of Benjamin and Sally Mankovitz of New York City. He is survived by his current wife of 23 years, Kathleen Barry; his first wife, Sharon Hops; his daughter and son-in-law Jill and Trevor Hurwitz; his son and daughter-in-law, Alan and Irina Mankovitz; his daughter Andrea Mankovitz; his grandchildren, Alexa and Jordyn Hurwitz and Alexandra Mankovitz; and his sister, Toby Singer.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to The Jewish Federation or La Casa de Maria Retreat Center in memory of Roy Mankovitz.