Obituary: Edward V. Locke, industrial laser pioneer

It is with great sadness, but fond memories, that I share the news of the passing of another pioneer in the foundation of the industrial laser materials processing industry.

Edward V. Locke
Edward V. Locke

It is with great sadness, but fond memories, that I share the news of the passing of another pioneer in the foundation of the industrial laser materials processing industry.

Ed Locke and I first met at a local technology conference here in New England, where neither of us were on the speaker panel, a situation that was to change over the succeeding years. At that time in the early 1970s, Ed and I were on opposite ends of the laser power curveme in the very low average power/high peak power pulsed solid-state laser end and Ed in the very high-power continuous-wave CO2 laser end. So, we were as far apart powerwise as possible at that time, but working on a common problemwhere is the industrial market for either of these lasers?

Our paths crossed many times in the intervening years, mostly at various technical events in the U.S. where we both spoke in support of our diverse products. Ironically, as fate would have it, on a consulting assignment at Avco Everett Research Laboratory, I was asked to consider stepping into his role when he moved on to another employment opportunity.

On acceptance, I was able to explore all of Ed’s achievements in very high-power laser processing. One, much to my surprise, was the award of a U.S. patent that essentially was the fundamental patent on high-power laser welding. At that time, Avco Everett had an unwritten policy to not prevent the use of anyone practicing certain patents on theory that a rising tide raises all ships, a policy that Ed and I commiserated over as we interacted for many years in the field of industrial laser processing. For years after, Ed and I would marvel about how the patent examiner allowed what could have been the dominant patent on laser welding to be allowed.

Edward Valentine Locke gained a degree in Physics at Holy Cross College and obtained a master's degree in Physics at MIT. He and his wife Joan raised five children, Edward, David, Stephen, Jenifer, and Benjamin, mainly in Rockport, MA, where he began his love of sailing, which became a lifelong adventure for him and his family. One of his children, David, has a career in industrial laser processing and has been my link to his father as our career paths diverted.

Ed founded Locke Technology Corporation, which was among the first companies to introduce the use of CO2 lasers for industrial applications. Locke Technology then led to the foundation of the Laser Corporation of America (LCA), which introduced one of the first commercially available 800 W CO2 laser systems, the Falcon 800. After LCA, he led business development efforts at ThermoElectron, where he was instrumental in taking several spinoff companies public.

Ed and Joan retired in 1999, splitting their time between Rockport and their winter home in Punta Gorda, FL. Sailing became their lifestyle, and cruising in their Hinckley Bermuda 40' yacht together was always a happiest moment. As the years went on and they settled permanently in Rockport, he moved away from captaining boats to crafting exquisite half-hulls in his workshop.

I, and his countless friends, will always recall his wide smile while offering a wise and courteous reception to our queries. He will be remembered as a devoted husband to his beloved wife of 59 years, who passed away in September 2018. Ed is survived by his five children, nine grandchildren, and 12 loving nieces and nephews and their families. His funeral Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, September 7, 2019, in St. Joachim's Church, Rockport. Donations to the Alzheimer's Association, Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter (Research Restricted), or Care Dimensions are warmly accepted.

The burial will be a private ceremony. 

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