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William Charles Hittinger Obituary
William Charles Hittinger
William Charles Hittinger died at Moravian Village, in Bethlehem, PA, on March 17, 2013. He was 90 years old. His life was one of exceptional personal achievement in which he devoted nearly a half century of leadership to both industry and education.Born on November 10, 1922 in Bethlehem, PA, he attended Bethlehem High School, and graduated from Lehigh University in 1944 with a B.S. in Metallurgical Engineering. As a Lehigh undergraduate, Mr. Hittinger was accepted into the engineering honors society Tau Beta Pi. Mr. Hittinger was also a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and played on both the football & baseball teams. He was one of the first recipients of an Alumni Student Grant financial aid award in recognition of his promise as an athlete, scholar, and potential leader. Additionally, he was in Lehighs ROTC during WWII and served in the U.S. Army following graduation, rising to the rank of Captain.Mr. Hittingers professional career as an engineer was extraordinary and distinguished. A veteran of more than 45 years in electronics, The Western Electric Company hired Hittinger in 1946 as a materials engineer. He began focusing on semiconductor research when he became a Production Manager for the National Union Radio Corporation a few years later. In 1959, he was hired by Bell Telephone Labs to direct the semiconductor device lab. Mr. Hittinger became Executive Director of the Semiconductor Device and Electron Tube Division of Bell Labs in 1962. In 1966, he was elected President of Bellcomm, Inc., a company jointly owned by American Telephone & Telegraph Company and Western Electric Company which was engaged in systems engineering for NASAs manned space flight program. In 1968, he became President of General Instrument Corporation, the electronics manufacturing giant that was acquired by Motorola in 2000. RCA hired Mr. Hittinger in 1970 to fill the Vice President and General Manager position of their Solid State Division. Two years later he became the Executive Vice President in charge of consumer electronics, and was elected to the RCA Board of Directors in 1974. His job as Executive Vice President of Research and Engineering came in 1976, a position he held until retirement in 1986. As EVP of R&E, Mr. Hittinger was responsible for all labs and RCA patent operations in their Princeton, New Jersey headquarters, as well as their international business and marketing development. From 1982 to 1986, Mr. Hittinger served on President Reagans National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee. He was also a member of the U.S. - Brazil Presidential Committee on Science and Technology and served as a member of the board of directors for eight companies, including Bethlehem Steel, and the Stabler Companies Inc. He has received countless accolades, most notable of which are his National Academy of Engineering membership and his Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers fellowship.In addition to his wife, Betty, the center of his universe for nearly 70 years, Mr. Hittinger carried on a love affair with Lehigh University and was a dedicated sports enthusiast. His passion for sports extended well beyond the Lehigh campus however, and he served as a high school football official for more than 10 years in both the Lehigh Valley and Northern New Jersey. Mr. Hittinger was an active member of Lehighs Board of Trustees for twenty-two years. The university began construction on the Zoellner Arts Center, completed the Ulrich Student Center, aggressively improved its financial aid for undergraduates, and completed the $305 million Campaign for Preserving the Vision during his 6 years as Chairman. He personally oversaw the introduction of wrestling scholarships, not limited by demonstrated financial need, in 1994. The program was fully endowed through alumni donations totaling $3.8 million, and its adoption also included the development of the academic merit aid program known as Deans Scholars. Mr. Hittinger also served in the capacity of Interim President in 1997-98. During that time, Lehigh adopted a similar policy for mens and womens basketball as part of a strategic effort to preserve the Patriot League and to enhance those athletic programs within the University.While president, Mr. Hittinger realigned the Iacocca Institute into the College of Business and Economics, oversaw the construction of the new Sayre Park Village residential complex, and facilitated Lehighs forward progression during a time of presidential transition. In recognition of his personal achievements and lifelong dedication to his alma mater, Lehigh bestowed Mr. Hittinger with an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree in 1973, the prestigious Lehigh in Life award in 1979 and inducted him into the Sports Hall of Fame.My father was a shining example of the hard earned, honest success which so typifies a member of the Greatest Generation. He grew up in a loving and caring, working class family where he learned to be industrious, fair and empathic, yet tough minded when necessary. He was continually grateful for all he achieved and despite the many accolades he received, he was an honest and humble man. He will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him, said his son, Bill Hittinger. Survivors: In addition to his loving wife, Elizabeth, of 68 years; Mr. Hittinger is survived by his two sisters, Ruth Motz, of Columbus, OH and Barbara Waskowitz, of New Britain, CT; his adoring children, Patricia Bunche, of London, England, William J. Hittinger, of Sewickly, PA., David C. Hittinger, of Bethlehem, PA, and Nancy Lehrer, of Winchester, MA., as well as 11 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren and three more on the way. He was predeceased by his father, John T. Hittinger and mother, Pearl M. Hittinger of Bethlehem, PA. Services: Will be private. Contributions: The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the William C. Hittinger Scholarship Fund at Lehigh University, Office of Advancement, 27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015.
Published in Morning Call on Mar. 20, 2013
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