1922 - 2014
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Leo Schenker, Inventor of Touch-Tone dialing passed away in Basking Ridge, New Jersey on January 3, 2014, aged 92.
Leo was born in Vienna in 1922, to Max and Gisela Schenker. He attended elementary and high school there until 1938, when his family sent him to England. There he attended Kilburn Grammar School for about a year, first concentrating on the study of English and then taking courses that allowed him to enter Battersea Polytechnic, a college of the University of London, as a second-year student in September 1939. After two years at Battersea he obtained a bachelor of engineering degree. In October 1941 he was commissioned as engineer officer in the Royal Air Force (at the age of 19.) He served in this capacity until almost the end of the war.
In 1948, he immigrated to Canada. In Toronto he joined the Research Division of the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario. He married Alda in Toronto in January 1949. A six months leave of absence from work enabled Leo to study at the University of Toronto, obtaining a master of engineering degree in 1950. In 1952, he was offered a part-time position of research associate at the University of Michigan, where he was also able to obtain a Ph.D. degree in 1954.
That year Dr. Schenker joined Bell Laboratories where he was engaged in exploratory development work in telephony, leading to a number of inventions, including the Touch-Tone dialing system. Later he worked in military and other areas and eventually retired in 1987 from the position of executive director.
After retiring from Bell Labs he was adjunct professor of electrical engineering at Cooper Union in New York for eight years. Dr. Schenker was a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. In 2013, Dr. Schenker was inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame for his work on Touch-Tone telephony and Picturephone.
The Schenkers had two children, Michael and Deborah. Leo is survived by his wife of 64 years, his daughter Deborah (Skip), two grandchildren Christopher (Cortni) and Jennifer, and a great-grandson Daxton. He also leaves a loving niece Caroline (Dana) and nephews Richard (Pat), Marvin (Randi), Peter (Carol) and cousins Leo (Livia) and Henry (Amy).
The family kindly requests donations to the Leukemia Society (http://www.lls.org ) in lieu of flowers. No service is planned at this time.
Published on NYTimes.com from Jan. 6 to Jan. 7, 2014