His early working career in the nascent computer industry took him to National Cash Register in Dayton, OH, where he supported the Sales Office by programming computers for clients. Growing up, he had been active in the YMCA, and continued his involvement in Dayton with the YMCA Pacemakers, where he met his wife, Mary Ann Layton. Alan went on to attend theYMCA Young Adult Conference in Beirut, Lebanon in 1965. Both went to Lima, Peru to do volunteer work for the YMCA, starting their life-long travels together. Soon after, Alan and Mary were married at the United Church of Christ in Fairborn, Ohio, on January 1st 1966.
His career grew apace with the computer industry, and NCR transferred Alan to their Westchester, NY Sales Office. Mary and Alan lived in Mount Kisco, New York where their first child Karina Kelsey was born in 1968. In 1969 he joined IBM in Manhattan to complete a System Engineer Training Program. They settled in Morningside Heights at 404 Riverside Drive. Their second child, Geoffrey Ludlow, was born in 1970. Alan’s training in systems prepared him for a career as an analyst in the ‘70s through the ‘90s, working for the Bank of New York, British Airways, JC Penney, Witco Petroleum and ASCAP.
While his career focused on Finance, Alan took every opportunity to enrich his family’s lives through travel. As a couple, he and Mary visited all seven continents. Between journeys, they appreciated Manhattan as a home base for the rich cultural opportunities- its art institutions like the Met and NYC Ballet- but also as a microcosm of the international communities they experienced abroad.
Curiosity about the world and its people is a fitting caption for Alan’s broad interests - his passion for world cultures and the arts, his love of knowledge, as well as his commitment to others both individually and through service organizations. Many who became his life-long friends did so through a common passion to deepen their engagement with both local and international communities. Through extensive travel, he preferred to see the world as a small place, focusing on those ties that unite rather than divide us. That belief spurred his early commitment to the Civil Rights movement, then inspired him to join the first group of men and women trained for the Peace Corps. Gathered with the first hand-picked class to realize Kennedy’s vision for service, Alan met and shook hands with the President in the Rose Garden in August of 1961.
Family and friends who knew him best appreciated his attention to detail and commitment to quietly transforming service and cultural organizations from within. Many with whom he served noted his preference for the vital role of guardian rather than mouthpiece for the institutions he valued. His long tenure at Riverside Church - first chairing various groups, then the Board of Ushers, and finally being elected as Deacon and Trustee- was the embodiment Alan’s approach to service - as Nietzche put it, “a long obedience in the same direction.” That he was twice named Man of the Year during his Board chairmanship for the YMCA of Greater NY Uptown Branch reveals his depth of commitment to that association since his youth. More recently, he gave back to his own Morningside Gardens community, serving on their MRHS Board (Morningside Retirement and Health Services).
Alan and Mary enjoyed cruising over the past two decades. Cruising combined their love of travel with their new pastime of ballroom dancing, which they learned through years of classes. Alan’s appreciation for the journey as a destination itself led him to a community of like-minded friends at the World Ship Society, (Port of New York). He thoroughly enjoyed the Friday night meetings with members, hearing presentations on the history of ships and stories of the great era of sea travel. Alan was a sponge for any lore of legendary ocean vessels. It was a treat to have him recount all that he knew - whether an exposition on a century of the White Star line, a vivid description of the Normandie interiors, or an informed account of the Andrea Doria collision. As with other commitments in his life, Alan gave back to the Society that had so enriched him, serving as their Treasurer.
During Christmas and New Years of 2016-17, Alan gathered his children and grandchildren on the occasion of their fiftieth wedding anniversary for a cruise together aboard the Queen Mary II. Grandchildren Genevieve, Nayongi and Layton will long cherish those personal times, and others, when Alan would intentionally focus on each- often to educate, but always to draw out and encourage their ambitions and dreams.
Alan is preceded in death by his parents, Rev. George & Helen Borthwick and brother Bruce Borthwick (Doris). He is survived by his wife, Mary, his daughter Karina Harding (Fritz) of Columbus, OH; son Geoffrey Borthwick (Mary) of Cleveland, OH; three grandchildren Genevieve & Layton Harding and Nayongi Borthwick; his sister Kathy Morgan (John) of Granby, CT; and brother David Borthwick (Deborah) of Cambridge, NY.
Condolences to the family can be sent care of Karina Harding, 1050 Broadview Ave., Columbus, OH 43212.
Contributions may be made in memory of Alan Borthwick to Morningside Retirement & Health Services, attn. Ron Bruno, Executive Director, MRHS 100 LaSalle Street - MC, New York, N.Y. 10027