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In Memoriam: Editorial Board Member Bruce Walker Dies at 86

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Longtime editorial board member Bruce Walker, whose frequent contributions to Optical Spectra and later Photonics Spectra spanned more than five decades, died last month at the age of 86.

Optical Spectra debuted in 1967, and Walker joined the company’s editorial board three years later. He was a frequent contributor in the 1970s and 1980s, when Optical Spectra was rebranded as Photonics Spectra. In the 30-year period beginning in 1970, he authored over 30 articles in the magazine. During this time, he also contributed to the Photonics Handbook and other company publications.
ruce Walker (left) sits next to his mentor, Donald Kienholz, in 1964. Courtesy of Bruce Walker.
Bruce Walker (left) sits next to his mentor, Donald Kienholz, in 1964. Courtesy of Bruce Walker.
Walker was active in the fields of optical engineering and lens design since 1960. At General Electric, he received four patents for special lens designs, and he joined the Electro-Optical division of Kollmorgen Corp. in 1971, serving first as a senior optical engineer and then as manager of optical engineering. Beginning in 1990, he worked as an independent consultant, specializing in the solution of optical engineering problems and the generation of many specialized lens designs.

Walker was founder, president, and principal engineer of Walker Associates, which specialized in the design of high-resolution optical designs for visual systems and military sights, submarine periscope visuals, video, digital photo, night-vision systems, and more. In 1995, he authored the textbook Optical Engineering Fundamentals. In 2000, he authored a second textbook, Optical Design for Visual Systems.

In his later years, Walker authored an industry retrospective entitled “Looking Back: A Lens Designer Remembers.” The special section ran in the September 2019 edition of Photonics Spectra and offered a firsthand account of the development and production of objective lens designs that would come to shape numerous fields.

Bruce Walker (left) and his daughter, Laurie, with Photonics Media president Tom Laurin (second from right) and vie president Erik Laurin (right) during a 2019 visit.
Bruce Walker (left) and his daughter, Laurie, with Photonics Media President Tom Laurin (second from right) and Vice President Erik Laurin (right) during a 2019 visit. 
Two years before publishing the retrospective that would be his final self-authored piece in Photonics Spectra, Walker recounted a correspondence — dating to 1970 — that he shared with a then 13-year-old boy with designs on testing a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope for aberrations. Walker’s guidance served to accelerate the 13-year-old’s love for optics, which ultimately fed into yet another pioneering career.

Richard Pfisterer, who sought out Walker’s expertise in those letters more than 50 years ago, serves as president and co-founder of Photon Engineering LLC and is regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on scatter theory/measurement and stray light analysis.

That correspondence, and an interview with Walker and Pfisterer, can be found here.

Bruce Walker retired in 2020 following a career marked achievements and immeasurable contributions to the fields of optics and photonics. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Verna (Schnopp) Walker, three children, two brothers, one sister, seven grandchildren, and additional family and friends.

Published: December 2022
Bruce WalkerOpticsPhotonics Spectraoptical spectraTom LaurinTeddi Laurinlenseslens designtelescope lensoptical engineeringIn Memoriam

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