We dedicated this year’s Conference and Proceedings to Dr. Ralph E. Armington who passed away October 24, 2010, age 92. Born on June 24, 1918, Ralph grew up in Melrose, Massachusetts. He earned a BSEE from Tufts University and an MSEE from New York University, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineerign from the University of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Armington had an interesting and varied career. During WW2 he assisted in developing advanced torpedoes for the US Navy. After the war, he began a distinguished academic career that included faculty positions at Penn State Uni., Uni.v of Maine, and the Ill. Institued of Technology, from which he retired in 1984. Concurrently, he nurtured his hidden persona as engineering “Sherlock Holmes” and developed a very active consulting practice in forensic engineering. He was still being retained to analyze power system failures until well into his 90th year.
While at Penn Stae, he orgainized the 1st Holm Seminar on Electrical Contcts (now the IEEE Holm Conference on Electrical Contacts) in 1953. His outstanding organizatonal skills helped to structure and sustain this Conference until his retirement in 1984. He left in place a solid organizational framework, which is still with us today, 58 years later. He also organized the 1st International Conference on Electrical Contacts in 1961, which held its 25th meeting in 2010. He was a member of the IEEE New Technologies Society, the IEEE CPMT society, and the National Safety Councel Crane Safety Committee.
Dr. Armington was very active in the Episcopal Church, attending services faithfully up to the last Sunday of his life. Since the age of 10, he always belonged to a church choir. As a longtime member of Holy Trinity Church in Skokie, Illinois, he served as a visiting Eucharistic Minister and also a Vestry member, building and grounds chairman, pledge recorder, Junior and Senior Warden, and Lay Reader. His last cotnribution to Holy Trinity was teaming with the church organist to rebuild and expand Holy Trinity’s pipe organ.
Ralph had many interests and accomplishments beyond the professional. While still in grade scholl, he and two young co-editors wrote and published a thriving weekly neighborhood newspaper. As a young man, he built and sailed two small yachts and, throughout his life, some of his happiest hours were spent on sailboats. The son of an electrical engineer for the railroad, Ralph had a lifelong passion for steam locomotives. In recent years, he thoroughly enjoyed building wooden models of steam trains for his great grandchildren.
He will be remembered for his pivotal role in creating this forum for the advancement of our technology.
Paul Slade, September 2011.