William Leonard Jolitz

On the life history of William Leonard (Bill) Jolitz.

Part of the Jolitz Heritage Site for the Jolitz Family of Silicon Valley.

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William Leonard Jolitz - Chemical Engineer, Inventor, Aerospace Engineer

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.

William Leonard Jolitz - Aerospace Years

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".

One of his hobbies was 8mm film making. Some of these "8mm films of WL Jolitz" are on the web.

William Leonard Jolitz - Lifetime of Innovation

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.

William Leonard Jolitz was born 1917? in Duluth Minnesota. His father, Frederick William Jolitz, was a local businessman with many different businesses, among them his concrete block manufacturing plant (left: father and son). They lived in West Duluth, near the shores of Lake Superior along with his sisters.

He attended Denfeld High, went to the local junior college. He was a local sports figure in skiing, ice hockey, and football, rising to the level of winning quarterback in junior college. He entered the U.S. Army.

William moved himself and family to San Jose in 1967, and joined Philco, later acquired by Ford as its Ford Aerospace division, as an process engineer. His work was directed at the fabrication of high reliability electronic systems of thick film hybrid construction.

For the uninitiated, this means special aluminum oxide ceramic wafers (or substrates), onto which conductive inks were used to connect chip components. Fired in a special furnance, the point would be to have electronics that could withstand the harsh environments of rocket launch and longterm space exposure.

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