Richard Ole Larson, retired operations manager at Toppan Photomask and recipient of the 2012 SPIE BACUS Lifetime Achievement Award, died 19 January in California. He was 68.
Larson started his career in the photomask-making community at MicroMask in 1973. Even though he was an English literature major in college, operations management was his forté. His career path took him to companies including Ultratech Photomask and Photronics, where he led operations to a record-breaking performance.
In the early 1980s, Larson was running operations at Ultratech Photomask when the company became the first photomask manufacturer to ship $1 million worth of production in a single month, a milestone at the time.
At Toppan, where he retired in 2008 after 28 years, Larson's talents with customers were legendary, and he led the operations to exceed 100 direct-write photomasks shipped per day.
Photomask colleagues John Whittey and Greg Easley said in a statement that the processes and systems Larson helped to develop are currently deployed across the photomask industry. "It is hard to imagine how many sets of masks Rich was responsible for manufacturing and shipping in 35 years," they said, noting that Larson also mentored many current and former managers. "He will be sorely missed."
The SPIE BACUS Lifetime Achievement Award recognized his leadership, mentoring, and operations excellence as well as general contributions to the photomask industry. BACUS, is a professional organization for international mask makers, equipment suppliers, and mask users who advance the technology and commercial application of masks for microlithography.
Larson, who was also a retired US Navy lieutenant, was a decorated aviator. He is survived by his wife, Sandra Larson, and three children.