William (Bill) Almer Gruver III, Ph.D.
07/13/1941 – 02/29/2016
It is with great sadness that the family of William Almer Gruver III, age 74, announces his passing after a brief struggle with serious illnesses. He died suddenly at his home in North Vancouver, BC, on Monday, February 29, 2016.
Born July 13, 1941 in Harrisburg, PA, Bill was the son of William J. and Cecilia M. (Uhler) Gruver. From a young age Bill surrounded himself with music: playing the piano, organ, and tuba and singing in glee clubs and church choirs. He also demonstrated an interest in the sciences, to the point of blowing up his chemistry set while in junior high school. He graduated from John Harris High School, and the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. While at university he was a member of the Navy ROTC. He went on to receive his Masters from the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, and returned to serve his country in the US Navy by teaching at the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD. He was honourably discharged and went back to the University of Pennsylvania for a second Masters and a PhD in Electrical Engineering.
While obtaining his PhD, he was introduced to Bettina through his friend and doctoral advisor, Dr. Victor Schutz. Bill and Bettina were married in 1970 in Germany. They divorced in 1996 but remained friendly and were devoted parents together. The family moved numerous times before settling in North Vancouver in 1992.
Bill held many positions in industry and academia over the years. After finishing his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, he held a position at the DLR Space Research Center, and was a Humboldt Senior Scientist Fellow at the Technical University in Darmstadt, Germany. From there Bill was an assistant professor at North Carolina State University before co-founding a start-up called LTI in Los Angeles. Following that, he held management positions at GE on the US East Coast and in Germany. The next five years included working for a tech company called IRT Corporation in San Diego, as well as the position of Director at the Center for Robotics and Manufacturing Systems at the University of Kentucky. In 1992, Bill accepted a position at the School of Engineering Science at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. He was excited to work again with students and pursue his research interests in robotics. He retired as Professor Emeritus.
Bill was an IEEE Fellow and Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada, recipient of the Norbert Wiener Award, Civitate Honoris Causa from Óbuda University, GE Management Award, and held honorary positions at seven Chinese universities.
He published 235 technical papers and four books on the theory and applications of robotics and manufacturing automation, distributed intelligent systems, control systems, and optimization.
He served as President of the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society; was a Division Director of the IEEE; and a member of the IEEE Board of Directors.
Outside of his professional life Bill’s many passions included singing, travelling, cooking, hiking, Porsches, and the stock market.
He was a dedicated choir member and had a keen knowledge of music theory and an extensive repertoire. With his deep, rich bass he was a valued member of many choirs. Bill and Shawn sang together for twenty-five years beginning in the Men and Boys Choir at Christ Church Cathedral, Lexington, Kentucky, and continuing on with the Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Vancouver, since 1992. For the last twenty years, Bill travelled to take part in summer RSCM courses, often bringing his children along as well.
Bill was a seasoned traveller professionally and personally. When he wasn’t giving lectures in Asia or Europe, he was visiting friends and family all over the world. The Gruver family Thanksgivings on the US East Coast were treasured events he looked forward to attending annually.
Bill was a passionate cook and appreciated fine food from all over the world, his forte being Indian curries. He was a skilled master at inventing gourmet meals out of leftovers. As his kids grew older they learned to appreciate his creativity and joined him on his search for authentic international cuisine.
Starting as a young man, Bill loved Porsches, and right out of college he put together what money he had to buy his first used Porsche. Throughout the years, he would spend hours in his garage, working on his car and fixing it up. This passion never left him.
Bill enjoyed hiking, especially in the Alps. He would venture out on his own to 8,000 feet with a 2,000-foot drop-off next to him, only to later brag, much to his kids’ dismay, “Guess what I did?”
A more recent fascination in his life was learning about the stock market and various trading techniques. He immersed himself in numerous courses and clubs, trading daily with fervour.
Bill will be remembered for living life to the fullest with enthusiasm, humour, and kindness.
He will be greatly missed by his son, Shawn V. Gruver, Hermosa Beach, CA; daughter, Olivia H. R. Wintgens (and husband, Greg), Berlin, Germany; five cousins: Rev. Barry Gruver (and wife, Marlea), Marshall Gruver (and wife, Deborah), JoAnn Daube (and husband, Fritz), Linden Gruver II (and wife, Barbara), SallyAnn Griffith (and husband, Barry) and their families; his friends; global professional engineering community; and fellow choristers around the world.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Christ Church Cathedral Vancouver “Music Endowment Fund”, or to the “Dr. William A. Gruver Engineering Science Memorial Award” at Simon Fraser University. For detailed instructions on how to donate, please visit http://thecathedral.ca/serve/give/ or call (604) 682-3848 x28 for the Music Endowment Fund, or visit http://ow.ly/Ze00p or call (778) 782-4154 for the Dr. William A. Gruver Engineering Science Memorial Award. Please be sure to designate your gift “In memory of William Gruver.” All your gifts are greatly appreciated by the family.
A service of remembrance and celebration will be held at Christ Church Cathedral, 690 Burrard St., Vancouver, on Sunday March 13, 2016 at 3 pm, with reception to follow.
The burial will be held the following week at Rolling Green Cemetery, in Camp Hill, PA.