Wallace H.E. Samuelson – Quartz Crystal Industry Leader and Innovator 1919 – 2005
Wallace H. E. Samuelson, 86, died Jan. 24, 2005, in Birmingham, Ala.
Mr. Samuelson grew up in New York City. He was a graduate of Antioch College and Harvard University with a master’s degree in communication engineering. He married Lois Samuelson in 1939. He briefly taught physics at Antioch College, but his main occupation was in the quartz crystal electronics business initially in Rochester, N.Y., and Weehawken, N.J., and then later in Carlisle, where he moved to in about 1946. After their children left for college he and Lois moved to Harrisburg where they remained until 1997.
Wally owned and operated Piezo Crystal Co. for many years with friend and partner Herman Shall, designing and manufacturing components for radio communication devices for the Armed Forces, private industry, and space exploration. After selling the plant, he continued as an engineering management consultant until the early 1990s.
After Herman’s untimely death in 1970, he ably acted as surrogate father and grandfather for the Shall family: Tillie (widow) and children Maxine, David, Donald and Michael.
He and Lois moved to Birmingham, Ala., in 1997 to be near their son. Lois died in 1997. He again fell in love and married Peggy Benjamin in 1999.
Wally was a very kind, friendly, loving, generous person. He was analytical, inquisitive, academic, scholarly and a patient teacher for Paul and Basja during their school years, and to employees and friends. He was known for his love of travel, good food and wine. He loved, and was loved in return, by all who knew him.
Bill Hanson (Hanson Technologies, Inc.) has provided the following personal remembrances of Wally:
“Wally and my family became very close. Wally was the best man at my wedding and we had lunch almost every week for 17 years. His generosity and grace was ever-present and I was fortunate to have him as a mentor at Piezo Crystal Company from 1980 to 1997. Wally’s expertise in production and engineering of quartz resonators was superb with experience spanning over 50 years. One fascinating story about Wally, which isn’t well known, is that he made blast sensors for the Manhattan project during WWII. I believe he did this in graduate school at Harvard working for Professor Charles Palache. He was assigned the task of cutting tourmaline crystals taken from German museums and making stacked blasting sensors. Wally said he cut many beautiful crystals, with many shattering even though they looked flawless. He was told the blast sensors worked perfectly measuring the explosive force of the atomic bomb.
Wally was an incredible teacher and mentor who knew everyone’s name and was always a gentleman. Wally helped advance the SC cut x-raying and cutting operation at Piezo from a single blank cutting operation to slurry saw in the early 80’s. This process was used to produce over one million SC’s sold from 1984 to 2001. This same process was used in 1997 to help develop the cutting of SC’s on the wire saw, successfully eliminating angle correction. Wally’s incredible energy and intellect will be missed greatly by myself and the crystal industry.”