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In memoriam: Teddi Laurin, Photonics Spectra founder

11 November 2015

Teddi Laurin (Image: Bachrach)

Theresa C. "Teddi" Laurin, founder and CEO of Laurin Publishing Company, died on 5 November in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

A native of Pittsfield, Laurin entered the worlds of optics and publishing in the early 1960s, working alongside former Eastman Kodak optical scientist Clifton M. Tuttle on a one-volume annual optical industry directory.

Laurin and Tuttle formed a partnership. In 1964, she and her late husband, Francis T. Laurin, bought the company. She launched the trade magazine Optical Spectra three years later, then became president of the company in 1973. The magazine was renamed Photonics Spectra in 1982, while the firm that Tuttle started was renamed Laurin Publishing in 1986. Her editorials predicted the age of the photon, and she spread awareness of a new industry, photonics.

Through many partnerships with SPIE and other technical organizations, Laurin worked tirelessly to support and grow the photonics industry. Her company's Circle of Excellence awards recognized industry innovations. Beginning in 2011, the Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation expanded that effort; the Prism Awards are presented annually by SPIE and Laurin Publishing/Photonics Media.

"Early on, Teddi saw the importance of recognizing the creators of new products," said Peter Hallett, SPIE Director of Marketing. "The Circle of Excellence awards were for many years a prestigious badge to recognize new ideas turned into products, an honor carried forward in a new way by SPIE and Laurin Publishing via the Prism Awards."

Laurin herself was honored by SPIE with the 1991 President's Award, in recognition of her "distinguished leadership and service in support of the optics industry and optical engineering."

She was honored by the magazine industry as well, receiving publishing and editorial excellence awards over the years from Magazine Week and Folio: magazines, as well as American Business Media, and the American Society of Business Press Editors. Teddi was honored in 2000 as one of 15 western Massachusetts "Women of Influence," and in 2005 she was inducted into the Western Massachusetts Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.

SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs remembered Laurin's energy and vision.

"Teddi was always warm, welcoming and uplifting," he said. "A technical community like ours tends to see advances in science and technology as the sole measure of progress. While these indeed are essential, they are often the products of a connected community with its eyes lifted towards the potential. Teddi Laurin was a creator, a believer and sustainer of the photonics community. Decades ago she helped to extend the scope of optics to embrace the new concept of photonics. She supported and advocated for education of generations of young innovators in our field. In awarding her its President's Award in 1991, SPIE recognized the contribution of her leadership and vision for our community. Long after that she continued to use her remarkable energy and talent to productive ends in Pittsfield and beyond. We mourn her loss and reflect with gratitude all she did for our community."

Donations may be made in Teddi's memory to an annual scholarship fund being established in her name. Please direct any inquiries or contributions for the scholarship to: Teddi Laurin Scholarship Fund, Laurin Publishing, P.O. Box 4949, Pittsfield, MA 01201.

Berkshire Eagle obituary: Teddi Laurin

Teddi C. Laurin, Photonics Industry Champion and Publisher