William Leonard (Bill) Jolitz, a native of Duluth Minnesota, made the transition from
a boy from the "wrong side of the track" to esteemed chemical engineer, inventor, and aerospace
engineer in Silicon Valley. Like so many other men of the time, he was
recruited and served in the European theater of World War II, most notably at the
Battle of the Bulge. After returning from the war and completing his engineering studies
at the University of Minnesota, he wisely convinced Norma I. Westman, a
Duluth Swedish beauty, to marry him. They had four children (Brenda, Marsha (dec.),
William Frederick, and Kimberly), and remained happily married until his death in 1994.
After college, Bill moved through many engineering jobs in the midwest and east
coast until he was recruited from GE by his old friend John
Brownie (who later founded Stanford Telecommunications). He joined Philco Ford in 1967, later Ford Aerospace
(now Loral ), and moved his entire family across the country in a long
car tour of all the major sights, from a tour of the battles of the Civil War (in which
he had a great personal interest) to Mount Rushmore, from Yellowstone to Disneyland, finally
reaching San Jose, California. His many friends included Richard A. (Dick) Williams, head of research
for Philco Ford (Bill and Dick patented a novel coating to deal with destructive corona discharge effects - see High voltage high vacuum coating), and Ernie Balderrama, his colleague (both now retired), along with
many other friends, and his nickname was "Jolly Jolitz".
He worked on many memorable aerospace projects at Ford, and after retirement was a consultant
to Loral .
He also worked in later years for his son, William Frederick Jolitz, supervising manufacturing
processes at Symmetric Computer Systems. But probably of all the projects he worked on,
the most amazing is that transponders on Pioneer are still transmitting
telemetry long after the death of their creator, and has now left the solar system, traveling
farther than any man or woman - an enduring legacy for an ordinary boy from Duluth.
See one of his 8mm films of a visit to the famous Scott's Valley tourist trap "Visit to the Lost World" in the late 60's.