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CLARENCE H. LINDER 1 903-1 994 BY WALTER L. ROBB AT HIS MEMORIAL SERVICE on May 7, 1994, celebrating the life of Clarence H. Linder, three of his grandchildren may have said it best. He was above all, a gentleman, a kind parent, a master storyteller, and a warm friend. To those of us in the engineering profession, and to those in his church, he was a leader, always thinking of ways to im- prove the world we live in. Clarence led the drive to establish the National Academy of Engineering. He lamented that the academically oriented National Academy of Sciences ignored the translation from basic research to the development of real products (an issue that continues to be debated). In modest triumph, he was a founding member of the National Academy of Engineering and in 1970 became its first full-time presi- dent. Clarence received both bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Texas. In 1924 he began his General Electric (GE) career in typical fashion, on turbine night test. He qualified for the seconc! class of the aclvanced engineering course and later served as an instructor for these courses. Clarence had assignments throughout the Schenectady Works, which included serving as superintendent of the Searchlight Department, a rapidly growing en cl critical busi- ness at the start of World War II. During the 1940s he was 139
140 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES assistant manager of the Schenectady plant, often filling in for an ill works manager. In 1951 he was named manager of the Major Appliance Division, and he had a key role in the cre- ation of Appliance Park in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1953 Clarence was appointed vice-president of eng~neer- ing for the company, and in that position he traveled widely to raise the standard of engineering throughout GE and throughout the world. Then, in 1960, Ralph Cordiner asked Clarence to become group executive for the Electric Utilities Group, which was then badly in need of a highly creditable general manager in the wake of a price-fixing scandal. As Mr. Cordiner said, "Clarence has eve~yone's respect." Clarence's retirement in 1963 marked the start of another career aimed at upgrading the status of and respect for- engineers in this country. It began with his leadership in founding the Engineering Joint Council and the construction of a new headquarters in New York City. The Council's objec- tive was to bring together the leaders of all of the nation's various engineering bodies. Clarence was himself a leader in a number of professional groups. He was a fellow and president of the American Insti- tute of Electrical Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, from which he received the Haraden Pratt Award in 1972. He was a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a member of the American Soci- ety for Engineering Education and the National Society of Professional Engineers. He served on the executive commit- tee of the Thomas Alva Edison Trustees and was active in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Corporation and at Harvard University, Vermont Academy, and Union College. Clarence received honorary degrees from Clarkson College, Lehigh University, Union College, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Texas in 1962. In 1970 in a talk at Union College on the future of engi- neering in the United States, Clarence emphasized British architect Nicholas Butler's definition of engineering as "the link, the bridge between man and nature; a bridge over which
CLARENCE FI. LINDER 141 man passes to get into nature to control it, guide it, to under- stand it, en c! a bridge over which nature and its forces pass to get into man's field of interest and service." Further in this remarkable speech, Clarence saicl; "About two thousand years ago Vitruvius, the Roman engineer, ob- served that the engineer 'should be a man of letters, a skillful draftsman, a mathematician, familiar with historical studies, a diligent student of philosophy, acquainted with music, not ignorant of medicine, learned in the opinions of lawyers, fa- miliar with astronomy and astronomical calculations. He should be fair-minclecI, loyal, and what is more important, without avarice, for no work can be done, truly done, without good faith and clean hands. Let the engineer not be greedy, nor have his mind busied with acquiring gifts, but let him with seriousness guarc! his dignity by keeping a good name."' What a wonderful description of Clarence Hugo Linder! Clarence remains, today en cl for the future, a mocle! and . . . ~ . inspiration tor engineers.