Joe Yaver, former SPIE executive director, passes away at 83

Dec. 2, 2016
SPIE former executive director Joe Yaver died unexpectedly in his sleep at his home in Bellingham, WA, on November 29, 2016.

SPIE (the international society for optics and photonics; Bellingham, WA) former executive director Joe Yaver, who served in this role from November 1969 until 1993, died unexpectedly in his sleep at his home in Bellingham on November 29, 2016. He was 83.

Yaver is credited with building the foundation for SPIE's current multidisciplinary international scope and shaping its place in the photonics industry. Among many milestones and accomplishments during his tenure, he was instrumental in:

  • Partnering with other societies and associations to establish major conferences at venues in Europe and Asia, in line with the Society's role as an international organization;
  • Expanding the scope and reputation of the Proceedings of SPIE, the foundation of the SPIE Digital Library with more than 10,000 volumes published as of 2016;
  • Moving SPIE headquarters from Los Angeles to Bellingham in 1977, and establishing the current headquarters campus in 1983;
  • Growing membership from 1200 in 1964 to 12,000 in 1993; and
  • Launching OE/LASE in Los Angeles (the precursor of SPIE Photonics West) and Technical Symposium Southeast in Orlando, FL (the precursor to SPIE Defense and Commercial Sensing) in 1986.
(L-R) 1979-1980 SPIE president Robert R. Shannon, technical director Yale Katz, executive director Joe Yaver, symposia chair Andrew G. Tescher, secretary H. John Caulfield, and volunteer Bruce Steiner gathered at SPIE headquarters in Bellingham, WA, in March 1979.

In recent years, Yaver turned his energies to his local community, becoming an activist in protection of the environment, working to bring economic prosperity to the area, and helping to organize the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention in Bellingham.

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