First I want to thank all my friends in cyberspace for their kind and comforting words of sympathy. They really do ease grief.
My two eldest "children" are pooling their worries about composing an obituary for their father. Son Otto is in Port Townsend WA, Candace is staying with me, but electronic communication is wonderful and they have been sending suggestions and revisions back and forth by cell phone, land phone and email. I want to post this version, even though it might not be the final one. I want to share what a wonderful man my husband was and what a rich legacy of memories he left to his descendants. So here is what they've said so far:
Dr Otto J. M. Smith died on May 10, 2009 from injuries sustained in an accidental fall on a poorly engineered sidewalk in front of the recreation center in El Cerrito CA. The accident occurred on May 7, 2009, He is survived by his wife Phyllis Sterling Smith and their four children and spouses, Candace and Clinton Shock; Otto and Kristin Smith; Sterling and Joan Smith; and Stanford and Dianne Smith.
Dr Smith was 91 at the time of his death, a professor emeritus in the department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley and an active inventor working in the field of energy production and efficiency. He was deeply concerned about global warming and devoted much of his later life to developing technologies and working for policies that would help save the world from this man-made disaster.
Dr. Otto J. M. Smith was an educator, inventor and author in the fields of engineering and electronics. He spent most of his career as a professor at University of California Berkeley. Dr. Smith is probably best known for the invention of the Smith predictor, a method of handling dead time in feedback control systems as well as the invention of Posicast control and the invention of several enabler devices to run three phase motors on single phase power. An early invention was for a circuit to generate square waves that was used in all Hewlett Packard signal generators.
Since 1976 all of his patents have been for devices to generate or conserve energy. Among his many patents are designs for solar electric power plants, wind generators and high efficiency motors. He has been granted at least 30 US patents as well as several foreign patents. At the time of his death he was actively pursuing two more patents which had been applied for but had not yet received a final office action.
Dr Smith was born Aug 6, 1917 in Urbanna Illinois. In 1923 he moved with his family to Stillwater Oklahoma where his father had a position teaching chemical engineering at Oklahoma A & M. He did his graduate work and received his doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University where he met his future wife and life long companion Phyllis Sterling. They were married for 67 years at the time of his death. At Stanford he was in the habit of catching lizards and presenting them to his wife-to-be who would wear them under the collar of her blouse for a day and then let them go in the evening. He was an animal lover and during his life had many wild animal pets as well as domestic pets including snakes, lizards, two different kinds of bats and an albino female opossum named Pogoette (after the Walt Kelley 'possum Pogo). He even set a praying mantis’s broken leg with a toothpick.
Otto was invited to give numerous presentations including such diverse topics as “Bats in the Belfry”, engineering ethics, camping through Russia in 1960, and living in Brazil during the 1950s. An orange at one side of a lot and the head of a pin at the other side could demonstrate the relative size and distance of the sun and the earth to boy scouts whereas slides of rice paddies and water buffalo were more appropriate to discussion of southeast Asia. His inclusion of his family in his overseas adventures introduced his children and grandchildren to the joys of international participation.
Dr Smith was a pacifist, a World Federalist, a believer in the rule of law, an atheist, a humanist, and active in political causes. He participated with his students in strikes and protests against the Viet Nam war and actively supported his wife in her extensive volunteer work with the Berkeley Free Church, the Ecumenical Chaplancy to the Homeless and other social causes.
Among his many awards were:
* Guggenheim Fellow.
* R&D 100 Award in 1999 for technologically significant new product.
* Listed in the “Leaders of the Pack” In Tech’s 50 most influential industry innovators since 1774 .
* Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
* Fellow, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
* Visiting Research Fellow in Economics and Engineering, Monash University, Victoria, Australia.
* Honor Societies: Sigma Xi, Phi Kappa Phi, Tau Beta Pi (Engr.), Phi Lambda Upsilon (Chemistry), and Eta Kappa Nu (EE).
The family requests that condolences take the form of gifts to the ACLU or Amnesty International, organizations that he supported. No memorial service is planned at this time.