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    In memoriam: Robert "Bob" Woltz, SPIE founder

    18 June 2014


    Robert L. "Bob" Woltz
    passed away peacefully at his home in California on 14 June at the age of 92.

    Woltz was one of the original founders of SPIE in 1955, and served as the society's third president. He followed his presidency with 11 years on the board of directors, and had been active in SPIE ever since. He wrote the history of SPIE that was the keystone of the memorial program at the 40th annual meeting of the society, and was one of the four speakers featured on the video history of SPIE that premiered at that meeting. For the society's 50th anniversary he authored the article titled "The Spirit of SPIE" in the SPIE memorial book, "From Photography to Photonics ---50 years of SPIE."

    In 1955, Bob became western manager for Fairchild Camera and Instrument, specializing in reconnaissance. His job gave him the freedom to visit with many test engineers, so he was able to coordinate and improve the design of many aeronautical systems. It soon became apparent that an organization was needed, so he helped start SPIE.

    For more than a year, he provided his Hollywood home to the society for weekly board meetings, helping to solidify its goals and expand, eventually worldwide.

    "Not one of us in the meetings had experience at this kind of work, but we sure had strong feelings about what we did not want ... that came from our experiences with other societies and clubs. A new direction was needed. We were exploring new techniques," wrote Woltz. "My thought was to not have it be stuffy and to have each contributor's work or ideas stand on their own merit."

    In those days, Bob often traveled around the country to participate in launching new chapters.

    Bob started his own company, Robert Woltz Associates, Inc., in 1970, concentrated on designing and producing specialized photonics products.

    Woltz was a long-time Fellow of the Society, and attended the SPIE annual meeting, now known as SPIE Optics + Photonics, for many years.

    Woltz is survived by his wife, Betsy; sons Paul and Randy; and daughter, Gina. An obituary is published in the Orange County Register.

    Stanley Baker, Robert Minter, Richard Councilman, Robert Betty, Robert Woltz
    Left to right: SPIE 1955 Organizing Officers Stanley Baker, Robert Minter, Richard Councilman, Robert Betty, and Robert "Bob" Woltz