Categotry Archives: Business

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Loyd C. Sigmon

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Categories: Business, Media, Scientists

lsigmon.jpgDrivers in Southern California owe Loyd C. Sigmon a debt of gratitude. He invented a broadcasting system that allows the police to warn drivers of freeway traffic jams and other emergencies.
While working as an engineer for KMPC-AM radio, Sigmon developed a $600 device that combined a tape recorder with a shortwave radio receiver. When a traffic emergency occurred, a police dispatcher activated the emergency beacon and recorded a message that could be broadcast on the air. Known as the SigAlert, the system was immediately adopted by six local radio stations.
The first SigAlert, which was broadcast on Sept. 5, 1955, requested the assistance of all area doctors and nurses to respond to a train derailment in downtown Los Angeles. The ensuing rush of medical personnel to the accident site actually caused a traffic jam. Future alerts were more successful, featuring reports of rabid dogs, boat collisions and car accidents. One SigAlert announced the news that a pharmacist had made a potentially fatal error while filling a prescription; the customer heard the alert in time and avoided an accidental poisoning.
Local governments and the National Safety Council honored Sigmon for his useful invention. Now computerized, SigAlerts are handled by the California Highway Patrol to report “any unplanned event that causes the closing of one lane of traffic for 30 minutes or more, as opposed to a planned event like road construction, which is planned separately.”
Born in Stigler, Okla., Sigmon was always interested in electronics. He earned his ham radio license at 14, and helped build a radio station in Kansas City, Mo. During World War II, he monitored German radio broadcasts as the head of noncombat radio communications on Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s staff. Sigmon later became a partner in Golden West Broadcasting, but he was best known for his emergency broadcast invention. On his car, personalized license plates read: SIGALRT.
Sigmon died on June 2 of natural causes. He was 95.

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Jack Losch

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Categories: Business, Military, Sports

John L. “Jack” Losch managed to pack a full life into 69 years.
As a youngster, he played centerfield for the Maynard Midgets in Williamsport, Pa. In 1947, his team beat the Lock Haven All Stars, 16-7, in Little League’s first World Series championship.
“Playing in the Little League World Series gave me the confidence in myself to know there was nothing I couldn’t do,” Losch once said.
He switched to football in his teens and earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Miami. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound All-American running back set four rushing records there, including the longest run from scrimmage for a 90-yard sprint in 1955. For his achievements, the school inducted Losch into its Sports Hall of Fame.
Losch was selected by Green Bay as a first-round draft pick in 1956. He played one season in the NFL, and in that short time became one of the most effective passers in Packers history.
Losch then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and spent three years serving as a fighter jet pilot. An injury kept him from returning to professional football, so he pursued a career as an auto executive. For the next 37 years, he worked at General Motors, ending his tenure as the director of Fleet Services. In 1996, he was named honorary chairman of the Little League Baseball World Series 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee.
Losch died on May 27. Cause of death was not released.

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George Christiansen

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Categories: Business, Military

George Thomas Christiansen, who spent 35 years designing cars for General Motors, died on May 17 of cancer. He was 84.
Christiansen was still a boy when his family moved from Norwood, Mass., to Detroit. He earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering at the University of Michigan before getting drafted into the Army Reserve. During World War II, Christiansen was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the ordnance branch, and served three years in the China-Burma-India theater.
Christiansen returned to the states and joined the design department at General Motors in 1946. Over the next three decades, he influenced the design of numerous cars to come down the assembly line. From 1963 to 1964, Christiansen contributed to GM’s Futurama Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair. The $2.5 million exhibit was visited by 10.5 million Americans.
After retiring in 1981, Christiansen moved to Naples, Fla., where he was the president of the General Motors Retired Executives Club.

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Joel Dean

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Categories: Business

Joel Dean, a member of the entrepreneurial team that launched the Dean & DeLuca food and wine empire, died on May 24 of a staph infection. He was 73.
After graduating from Michigan State University, Dean moved to New York to study English at Columbia. He was working at Simon & Schuster in 1977 when he and former schoolteacher Giorgio DeLuca opened the first Dean & DeLuca store in Lower Manhattan.
Over the next three decades, the store expanded across the U.S. and into Japan. Dean & DeLuca moved its main headquarters to a 10,000 square foot building in SoHo in 1988, where it remains a New York landmark.
Dean & DeLuca is known for selling high-priced quality food, wine and kitchenware. Artist Jack Ceglic, who was Dean’s companion for 46 years, designed the industrial appearance of each store.

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Roger Straus

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Categories: Business

Roger Williams Straus Jr., co-founder of the Farrar, Straus & Giroux publishing company, died on May 25 of pneumonia. He was 87.
An heir to the Guggenheim fortune, Roger’s mother was Gladys Guggenheim, and his father, Roger W. Straus, was president of the American Mining and Smelting Co. Despite being raised in wealthy social circles, Straus attended Hamilton College for one year before transferring to the journalism school at the University of Missouri. After graduation, he worked as a reporter for a White Plains, N.Y., newspaper and toiled as an editorial assistant at Current History magazine. During World War II, Straus helped run the New York office of the magazine and book section of the Navy Office of Public Relations.
Straus was only 29 years old when he and John Farrar launched their publishing company in 1946. Over the next six decades, its name changed several times and its focus narrowed to the literary market. The company also developed a reputation for establishing contemporary writers like T.S. Eliot, Flannery O’Connor, Philip Roth, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Pablo Neruda, Shirley Jackson, Maurice Sendak, Susan Sontag, Tom Wolfe and Scott Turow.
Straus often read manuscripts from the company’s slush piles and handled most editorial and financial decisions. Although he sold the prestigious publishing house 10 years ago to the Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, Straus remained largely in charge. In 2001, the Association of American Publishers gave him the Curtis Benjamin Award for Creative Publishing.
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