G. Stephen (Steve) Mecherle, 52, died at his residence in Hawthorne, CA, on Feb. 29.
He is survived by his sister, Cindy (Mike) Merrimac, and their two children, Lauren and Megan, Phoenix, Ariz.; his brother, Gregg (Barby Pratt) Mecherle, and their two sons, Jack and Christopher, Bloomington, IL. His father, G. Robert Mecherle, Bloomington, also survives. Steve was preceded in death by his mother, Marilyn K. Mecherle. Steve never married.
He was born July 18, 1955, at Edwards Air Force Base in California, where his father was stationed. He graduated from the University of Illinois in Champaign with an undergraduate and master's degree in electrical engineering. He received his doctorate in 1986 from the University of Southern California. He worked initially for Hughes Aircraft, and later, TRW. Steve became a recognized expert internationally in the field of laser communications, specializing in free-space optical wireless technology. He was responsible for obtaining several patents in this area. He chaired the SPIE conference on free-space laser communications at SPIE Photonics West for 15 years, and also taught on this topic at UCLA.
Steve formed his own company, Laser Diode Systems Corp., which manufactured products using free-space optical wireless laser communication technology. That led him to become co-founder of fSONA of Canada in 1997, where he was chief scientist and technical officer. In 2004, Steve consulted for NASA and the Jet Propulsion Lab on their Mars laser communications demonstration project.