Associates of Fred Schwartz of Woodbury during his 28 years with The University of Tennessee Space Institute paid tribute to him at a luncheon held Sept. 21 in his honor.
A senior research specialist and lab manager for UTSI’s Center for Laser Applications (CLA), Schwartz in recent years has worked in the Laser Materials Processing group developing the Laser Induced Surface Improvement (LISI) techniques and requirements for industrial applications. His wife Carolyn, mother of their two sons, also attended the luncheon.
Joel W. Muehlhauser, assistant vice president and dean of research, presiding at the luncheon, described Schwartz as “a true professional and a very competent individual who has explained his work on all levels, including Ph.D’s, so that we all could understand.” He presented a plaque in appreciation of Schwartz’s service to the Institute.
John E. Caruthers, associate vice president and chief operating officer, was out of town but sent a letter to Schwartz saying, “I want you to know how your skills and efforts over the years at UTSI have earned you a lasting place in the annals of this special institution.”
Dwayne McCay, former UTSI vice president and his wife Mary Helen McCay, both now in Florida, sent a video, expressing best wishes to Schwartz as he leaves the Institute. The McCays recalled their close association with Schwartz and CLA.
As co-inventor with a CLA team, Schwartz received nine patents in recent years from the UT Research Corporation and was recognized for his pivotal role in developing the LISI system for changing surfaces of metal.
Fellow employees contributed money that Richard Gulley, information technology administrator at UTSI, said would pay for placing 100 Gideon Bibles in public places in Schwartz’s name.
Numerous co-workers, past and present, attended and several spoke briefly of their association with Schwartz. Retired Professor Ralph Kimberlin recalled working together to apply laser technology to a Jet Wing airplane in the late ‘70’s. He described Schwartz as “a close personal friend and a very consistent person.”
Jim Goodman, labs manager, praised Schwartz’s leadership abilities.
Carole Thomas, who helped plan the program, recalled that when she started working at CLA, “I called Fred ‘Schwartz’ for three weeks.” An Air Force veteran, he studied mechanical engineering for a year at Middle Tennessee State University and also completed numerous technical courses before joining UTSI in 1977.
Diane Chellstorp said, “You made me feel welcome when I started working with CLA. You have a bulldozer personality: When something needs doing, you do it; when something needs saying, you say it.”
Linda Crosslin a former employee, said that over the years she found him to be “dependable, organized, and truthful.”
John Hopkins of the UT Research Foundation in Knoxville, who earned two degrees at UTSI, praised Schwartz’s “technical expertise.” He recalled working with him on a Saturn motor on a task that mechanics said couldn’t be done, “but in 2 ½ years, we did it.” Chris Layne of Manchester, who as an 18-year-old co-op student from UT worked with Schwartz, said, “If it were not for him, I’d never have gotten my master’s degree later in Electrical Engineering at UTSI.”
Before the Applied Physics Research Group or CLA existed, Schwartz worked for former Dean Kenneth Harwell in the Gas Diagnostics Division.
“I’ve always been a loyal person,” Schwartz said. “UTSI has been good to me, and I’ve tried to be good to UTSI and worked hard. I’ve loved working here and love all the people.” He said the way the Institute has treated him is “unheard of in today’s corporate world” and urged an “aggressive effort to make sure that UTSI goes on.”
In a reference to his Christian faith, Schwartz said, “Who we are is soul and spirit and these are eternal, and this is why I fear not” (the future). “It has been a real honor to be a part of your lives.”