With the passing of Rolf Remshardt on 16 July, IEEE has lost one of its most highly regarded and valued volunteers. His sudden death, only weeks after he was a special guest at the IEEE Region 8 50th anniversary celebration in Madrid, came as a terrible shock to his many friends across IEEE.
For almost 30 years he provided an outstanding example of selfless and ethical service to the institute. He was a major influence in policy making. Eight regional directors benefited from his wise and friendly advice. And as treasurer for 15 years, his stewardship of the region’s finances enabled a huge expansion of its activities, underpinned by the substantial reserves he built up by careful investment and budget controls.
Rolf earned a Diplom-Ingenieur degree and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Technical University in Stuttgart, Germany. He began his career at IBM’s Stuttgart office in 1967 working as a development engineer, designing integrated circuits and semiconductor chips. He also spent two years with IBM in the United States. During his nearly 30 years with the company he held several development and management positions.
In 1983 Rolf was elected Region 8 treasurer. Former region director Walter Proebster, his boss at IBM at the time, had persuaded Rolf to take on the job without warning him about the time commitment involved. Nevertheless, Rolf quickly demonstrated his skill in managing the complexities of dealing with many different currencies and exchange controls in an era before credit cards became universal.
He served as Region 8 director from 1999 to 2000, at a time when there was a rapid expansion of IEEE activity in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Under his wise counsel the problems of IEEE membership in the low-income countries were dealt with very effectively. This laid the foundation for the success of the enlarged Region 8 as it reached its 50th year. Rolf also served on many IEEE boards and committees, including the IEEE Foundation as a director and vice president of projects.
He was honored with the 2002 IEEE Larry K. Wilson Transnational Award and the 2006 IEEE Regional Activities Board Achievement Award.
We mourn the loss of one of IEEE’s finest volunteers, and share the grief of his wife Renate and son Marc. We will all miss Rolf as a friend and colleague and as a happy companion.