Oliver Harker Winn – Shelburne

Oliver Harker Winn was born Aug. 11, 1920, in Detroit, Mich., the youngest of four boys to Elizabeth Forbes Winn and Harry Strong Winn. They ran out of family names they liked, and he was “Baby Boy Winn” until he applied for a driver’s license. He then had to convince authorities he had been known as Oliver Harker Winn for 16 years and would like to be so recorded. After a full life of 92 years, Oliver died in the Shores Lodge at Shelburne Bay on April 5, 2013. Oliver was educated in the Detroit school system and went on to graduate first in his class from Michigan College of Mining and Technology in Houghton, Mich., with a BSEE degree, magna cum laude, his major’s in power and electronics. He joined the General Electric Company when they recruited him on Career Day in 1942. The thought of traveling alone all the way to Schenectady, N.Y., for a career was not attractive to him, so he invited Mary Elizabeth Hedgcock to go with him as his bride. As she sang many times since: “Little I knew what I would see, when I took the train to Schenectady…” but it became a loving union of over 70 years. Upon joining GE, he entered their Test Engineering Program, and completed their three year Advanced Engineering Course. He performed the development work for one of the first automatic tracking radars and holds several patents in the electronics field. In 1952, he received the Coffin Award – GE Company’s highest employee honor for outstanding service – for his work developing the monopulse track radar system. He also earned his Professional Engineering license. His management skill development resulted in appointment as General Manager of the Capacitor Department, and subsequently he led divisions in Battery, Integrated Circuits, and High Voltage Circuit Breakers. He was a member of the Institute of Radio Engineers, the American Institute of Electronic Engineers, and Sigma Xi. Upon retiring from GE, he returned to Syracuse, N.Y., to complete his PhDEE at Syracuse University in the field of hetero-junction solar cells. Dr. Winn then began to teach technical subjects in the Business Departments of Atlantic Community College, and then Glassboro State College of New Jersey. He led both schools in their moves into the business micro-computing age. After retiring from teaching, the Winns were enticed to California when Oliver was offered positions, first as Chief Operating Officer and later as the Chairman of the Board of IPI, manufacturer of electrical connectors and thermoelectric devices headquartered in Santa Ana, Calif. In his later years, Oliver remained a dedicated family man and active community member, playing golf, and applying his curiosity and ingenuity to everything from toasters to water pumps to an attempt at a manpowered airplane, fixing, inventing, and solving problems both down to earth and visionary. A lifelong scholar, he attended conferences and delivered speeches in several cities, submitting his knowledge and views to periodicals, scientists, and politicians regularly. Oliver, an Eagle Scout himself, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Boy Scout program, and was instrumental in building a Boy Scout headquarters in Glens Falls, N.Y. He claimed two seats at the inception of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and enjoyed the New York Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra. He loved to be near water whenever he had the opportunity. His father had taken the boys fishing and he loved it ever since. He treasured his antique boat and swimming and camping with his children. His joy of life and eternal optimism was inspirational. Oliver leaves a devoted family of his wife, Mary Elizabeth; and four children, Michael Lee (Caroline) Winn, Diana Winn Levine, Charles Barry (Tamara) Winn, and Elizabeth Ann Winn. He leaves three granddaughters, Laura Lee Winn Kane, Jennifer Jean Winn (Jeffrey Preischel), and Jessamine Elizabeth Levine; two nephews, Kirtley Winn and Curtis Hugh Winn; and his beloved Stephen and Philip DelVecchio.

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