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Frederick Alan Saal

1931 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Frederick Alan Saal Obituary
Frederick Alan Saal

Colts Neck Twp

Frederick Alan Saal formerly of Colts Neck Township, NJ, died on January 23, 2017 at his home in Grayson County, Virginia.

He was born on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1931, in Camden, NJ, to Louise Ruth Saal and Clarence Frank (Fred) Saal. Fred graduated from Haddonfield Memorial High School in 1949 and was awarded the Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award and the Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute Medal for mathematics and science. He graduated first in his class in the College of Engineering at Lehigh University in 1954, receiving BS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Engineering Physics. He was a member of several honorary fraternities including Phi Beta Kappa, Tau Beta Pi, Eta Kappa Nu, and Pi Mu Epsilon. He was a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Fred joined Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill in 1954 and worked later in Holmdel, NJ. He played a prominent role in the development of a time division switching system named TASI, which doubled the capacity of transatlantic telephone cables. In the early 1960's, he led the advancement of high-speed coders applicable for signals like television. In the 1970's he developed equipment for the first digital telephone switching system. In the 1980's he created equipment specifications for applications including fiber optic light-wave systems. By the time he retired in 1989, Fred had championed and developed a system named SONET, for Synchronous Optical NETwork. This allows multiple signals to be transmitted along a single fiber and is still in use today. During his tenure with the Bell companies, Fred served as a delegate to an international committee, (CCITT), to establish standards making transcontinental communication possible. It was in this forum that he introduced SONET and succeeded to have it adopted worldwide. As this committee is a subgroup of the International Telecommunications Union based in Geneva, Switzerland, many trips allowed Fred opportunity to hike alpine trails. An avid outdoorsman, he enjoyed exploring the countryside of all of his business destinations around the globe. Closer to home, Fred section-hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, completing the 2200 mile trek in 1989. The allure of southwestern Virginia attracted him to settle on Iron Mountain overlooking Cripple Creek. Fred's interest in hiking and camping sprouted from his experience in the Boy Scouts, earning 20 merit badges and achieving the rank of Star Scout in his youth. This evolved into his adulthood where he started and led Boy Scout Troop 290 as Scoutmaster. He served as Historic Trail Committee advisor to the Order of the Arrow lodge, and was elected to Vigil membership. Fred served on the Vestries of St. John's Episcopal Church and St. Marks Anglican Church, both in Wytheville, VA, as well as the Board of Trustees of Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Spring Valley. He also served on the Board of directors of the Virginia Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation. Surviving Fred is his wife of 61 years Claire, his three sons, Frederick, William and Karl, six granddaughters and two grandsons. A private graveside service was held on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, in the Ebenezer Church Cemetery. A guestbook is available online at
Published in Asbury Park Press on Feb. 12, 2017
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