September 26--The global industrial laser community will be saddened to learn that one of it's famed and most highly respected contributors, Professor Akira Matsunawa, died September 20th after a short hospital stay.
Prof. Matsunawa was Professor Emeritus of Osaka University, a position that was the culmination of a lengthy career with that institution.
Prof. Matsunawa, Akira to his legions of friends and associates, was a highly respected proponent of laser materials processing, and a scan of his work will show innumerable references that have appeared in the world's publications on this subject.
He was honored for this lifetime of contributions by the Laser Institute of America (LIA) in 2002 when he was presented that organization's Schawlow Award. It was through his association with the LIA that Akira gained global recognition for his work in a variety of laser materials processing developments, too numerous to mention here.
I met Akira in the late 1970s when he first came to the United States to continue his studies at Ohio State University. At that time he graciously acted as an intermediary in my discussions with Prof. Y. Arata at Osaka University. Upon his return to Japan he worked at the University in support of Arata's Welding Institute, a position that he continued until Arata's death.
Akira was not only an excellent technologist; he was also a warm person, given to easy relationships on first meetings. His good humor and thoughtful advice served many of us in the laser community as a resource that could be counted on for action when required.
On his recent retirement from the University he planned to spend his remaining days as an advisor to those he had interfaced with and enjoying time with his lovely wife Junko. His untimely death will be felt deeply by his many admirers.--David A. Belforte