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In Memoriam: Teddi C. Laurin, Photonics Industry Champion and Publisher

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PITTSFIELD, Mass., Nov. 9, 2015 — Tom Laurin, president of Laurin Publishing Co. Inc., has announced the passing of his mother and company founder, Teddi C. Laurin, who will be remembered as an indomitable advocate for the photonics industry.

Widely credited with ushering the term photonics into popular — and global — use, Teddi, aided by the marketing talents of her daughter, Diane, devoted many years to the adoption of the single term she felt would bring together all the burgeoning light-based technologies as a single industry and a force for the future. Describing photonics as “the technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon,” Teddi told the Boston Globe in 1996, there is “no question that photonics is a leading technology for the next century.”

Teddi C. Laurin

Laurin Publishing Co. Founder Teddi C. Laurin, photographed in 2003. Courtesy of Bachrach.


A native of Pittsfield, Teddi entered the worlds of optics and publishing in the early 1960s, working alongside former Eastman Kodak optical scientist Dr. Clifton M. Tuttle on a one-volume annual optical industry directory. When Dr. Tuttle retired, Teddi took over management of the Optical Industry Directory, expanding it over the years into a four-volume compendium that included the Photonics Handbook and Photonics Dictionary. More than 60 years later, the directory, which today is the single-volume Photonics Buyers’ Guide and a comprehensive online resource of the same name, is still widely used. Teddi and her husband Fran bought the Optical Publishing Co. from Tuttle in 1964.

In 1967, responding to a need she saw for a trade magazine to serve the optical industry, Teddi established Optical Spectra to publish relevant business and technical news.

The magazine’s rapid rise reflected the growth in optical technology, propelled by the invention of the laser and development of fiber optics, all of which suggested to Teddi, “a need to put under one tent the ever-widening range of subdisciplines that optics had spawned.” In 1982, she changed the magazine’s name to Photonics Spectra, declaring in an editorial that “in the coming decades, we will see photons — the elementary particles of light — put to work to do most of the things electrons do now — and do it better and faster.”

Laurin Publishing Co.’s mission became “to serve as a faithful, accurate reporter and interpreter of new developments, not just in one segment of photonics but, rather, in all of its manifestations, from conventional optics to electro-optics, from lasers and fiber optics to imaging and optical computing.”

Teddi’s devotion to that mission was widely recognized in the industry. In 1991, she received the SPIE President’s Award in recognition of her “distinguished leadership and service in support of the optics industry and optical engineering.” Noting that her “commitment to the industry extends far beyond publishing,” the citation went on the say that “she has been generous in contributing her time to serve on several boards and committees associated with professional organizations, and has consistently sought to aid and encourage new photonics ventures.”

She was recognized in 1996 with an Engineering Excellence Award from OSA, honoring Teddi “for fostering broader recognition of optical engineers’ achievements and creating a greater awareness of the technology’s potential new applications.”

Teddi was active on boards and committees of OSA, Laser Institute of America (LIA), Laser and Electro-Optics Manufacturer’s Association (LEOMA) and SPIE.

Her work was recognized by the magazine industry as well, resulting in publishing and editorial excellence awards over the years from Magazine Week and Folio: magazines, as well as American Business Media, and the American Society of Business Press Editors. Teddi was honored in 2000 as one of 15 western Massachusetts “Women of Influence,” and in 2005 she was inducted into the Western Massachusetts Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.

She was instrumental in the development of the Circle of Excellence Awards — given annually by vote of Photonics Spectra’s Board of Editorial Advisors to the 25 most innovative new products of the previous year — the spirit of which is alive in the Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation, presented annually by SPIE and Laurin Publishing/Photonics Media.

Teddi’s many employees over the years will remember her for instilling a core commitment to integrity, quality and accuracy, and attention to even the smallest details. Yet, they knew that her mission was not just about making her company successful. She wanted the photonics industry to be successful, too, and felt that by producing high-quality, informative, accurate publications, Laurin Publishing could help foster the growth and success of the industry. She believed that by keeping everyone in the community informed and educated, and by bringing together manufacturers, buyers, researchers and developers, all would thrive.

In addition to Tom and Diane, many members of Teddi’s family joined the company over the years. Her husband Fran was named president in 1974, and daughters Patricia and Wendy also worked for many years at Laurin Publishing. Today, two of Teddi’s grandchildren – Tom’s children, Ryan and Kristina Laurin – are company vice presidents, carrying on Teddi’s commitment to the industry.

Donations may be made in Teddi’s memory to an annual scholarship fund being established in her name. Please direct any inquiries or contributions for the scholarship to: Teddi Laurin Scholarship Fund, Laurin Publishing, P.O. Box 4949, Pittsfield, MA 01201.
Nov 2015
BusinessAmericasMassachusettsLaurin PublishingTeddi Laurin

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