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Beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend and colleague, Harvey C. Nathanson, age 83, passed away peacefully at home on Friday, November 22, while with his loving family. A lifelong Pittsburgher, he grew up the son of a pharmacist in Morningside before becoming a pioneer in the field of solid-state electronics. As a boy in the 1950s, he taught himself about electrical circuits and built hi-fi music systems from mail-order kits, interests that led him to decline his father's invitation to take over the family pharmacy business, Highview Drug in Stanton Heights, and instead pursue an engineering degree at Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Mellon University. After earning his Ph.D. in electrical engineering, he joined Westinghouse Electric, the manufacturing giant that was long one of Pittsburgh's leading employers. Working out of the Westinghouse Research Labs in Churchill, in 1965 he conceived of a microscopic device used as a tuner for microelectronic radios. The invention, known as the resonant-gate transistor, became the first device in the field of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS), whose technology is now found in consumer products ranging from iPhones to Fitbits. In his work developing similar devices, he pioneered a method of mass production that would later become a mainstay of MEMS manufacturing.  In 1973. he patented the use of tiny mirrors to create a video display of the type now found in digital projectors. Named Chief Scientist of the Westinghouse Research Labs in 1988, he retired in 2001 but continued to consult for another decade, completing a 50-year career in which he was awarded more than 50 patents in the field of solid-state electronics. He enjoyed spending time with his family during weekends at their summer cottage in Fombell, Pa.; summer vacations at Cape May on the Jersey Shore; and scenic rail travel around North America. Favorite activities included driving his restored 1947 Farmall Cub tractor; listening to opera; cuddling his cat Charcoal; cooking for family and friends; and eating filet mignon, Mineo's pizza and Baskin-Robbins grasshopper pie. He cherished lifelong relationships with a group of friends who met for many years at the Elbow Room and referred to themselves as the Oakland Philosophical Society.  He was an active member of Squirrel Hill's Temple Sinai, where he served multiple terms as Brotherhood president. He will be greatly missed by his loving wife of 56 years, Esther Mishelevich Nathanson, children Marc Nathanson (Jane Lee) and Elinor Nathanson (Peter Kogan), adored grandson Benjamin Kogan, lifelong best friend Louis Lind, and countless other friends, colleagues, and extended family.  He was preceded in death by his parents David Nathanson and Ella Sachs Nathanson, his sister Bernice Sniderman and his brother-in-law Milton Sniderman. Services at  RALPH SCHUGAR CHAPEL, INC., 5509 Centre Avenue, Shadyside, on Sunday, November 24, at 1 p.m.  Visitation one hour prior (noon to 1 p.m.).  Interment Beth Shalom Cemetery.  In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Temple Sinai, 5505 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15217.

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Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Nov. 23 to Nov. 24, 2019.
12:00 - 01:00 PM
Memories & Condolences
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15 entries
December 11, 2019
Esther -
Thank you so much for updating us regarding Harvey's passing. My condolences to you and your family.
It is ironic that both Harvey and my father Robert Wickstrom passed away within mere days of one another 3 years apart. Their time spent together as a team at Westinghouse showed a deep commitment to thorough and precise research to fulfill the contracts with successful results allowing for those patents to take place.
My quiet father gave his life in the clean room to enable these creations to occur at that time. It is best to be reminded that it requires a team for the best success in all noble pursuits.
Thank you for considering this balanced perspective.
Best regards,
Patricia (Wickstrom) Knell
Patricia Knell
November 27, 2019
I first encountered Harvey Nathanson through a search into the academic literature, halfway through my PhD at Berkeley in the early 1980s. I was very surprised to learn that Harvey had already developed a similar device to my micro resonator, while I had been in kindergarten! I later met Harvey in person, one month after I joined the faculty of Carnegie Mellon in 1984. He had invented a new solid-state gyroscope and had me look at one aspect of it as my first consulting job. He invention was decades ahead of its time and is an active area of research in labs around the world.

Harvey was awarded the IEEE's Centennial Medal in 1984 and Millennium Medal in 2000, in recognition of his breakthrough inventions of micro mechanical resonators in the 1960s and micro mirror displays in the 1970s. As Chief Scientist of the Science and Technology Center of Westinghouse and later Northrop Grumman through the 1990s and into the 2000s, he continued to invent new devices and systems and to inspire young engineers and scientists. In particular, his work on miniature atomic clocks led directly to major DARPA program, which funded projects in several universities and companies in the 2000s. These remarkable devices are now in production and have brought ultra-precise time keeping to a variety of applications. For the micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) research community, it was encouraging to know that Harvey had scouted ahead and found new, fertile lands for us to tame and cultivate.

It was a privilege to get to know Harvey through occasional meetings over the years. As many of you who knew him much better than I have already stated, he was a wonderful and generous man. About ten years ago, he sent me several of his vintage 1963 resonant-gate transistors, which a former Westinghouse colleague had found buried in a box in his garage and sent to Harvey. I'm saving one for a future exhibit on MEMS at the Smithsonian or perhaps, at San Jose's Tech Museum. Speaking for myself and my community, we will all miss one of the 20th century's giants.

Roger Howe
Dept. of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University
Roger Howe
November 25, 2019
Nathansons and Wions at wedding, June 1998
The Nathansons and Wions at the wedding of Christopher and Emily Wion, June 1998.
Phil Wion
November 25, 2019
I was so sorry to learn of Harvey's passing through his life long friend Lou Lind. I am grateful for having the opportunity to know you and your Family. He was a great man in so many ways and will missed by many.

"The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering." Bruce Lee

Harvey you have most certainly accomplished this, Rest in Peace my Friend.

Charlie Wilson
CRW Services, LLC
Charlie Wilson
November 24, 2019
We met Esther and Harvey when we first came to Pittsburgh in 1967, through Harold and Marion Lyke, parents of the Nathansons' friends Bob and Ned Lyke, and we soon became close friends, as eventually did Elinor and Marc and our children Jennifer and Christopher. Among many cherished memories of shared experiences are a dinner at Lake Louise in Canada shortly after Christopher and Emily's wedding in Seattle in 1998, a train ride in the Alps (Harvey loved trains!) when they visited us in Switzerland, and many happy holiday get-togethers. Harvey's intelligence, wit and good cheer will be sadly missed by all his family and friends.
Marianne and Phil Wion
November 24, 2019
There are so many memories and stores to remember about Harvey. All the years we worked together and after. The family will be in my thoughts during this time of sorrow.
Clem Zahrobsky
November 24, 2019
Dear Esther, Marc & Elinor,
I was truly saddened to learn of Harvey's death. Mensch doesn't even come close to describing who Harvey was.
Amy & I have often talked about our Israel trip and how fond she became of both of you. May Harvey's name always be for a blessing.
Harold Marcus
November 24, 2019
Harvey's technical accomplishments at Westinghouse will always be second to the good will and spirit he created for the members of his team. He was the best.
Lawrence Stampahar
November 23, 2019
I have fond memories of Harvey and his family growing up on Duffield St and loafing in front of the family business in Morningside which was called the Highview Drug Store. I will keep Harvey and his family in my prayers. Peace to all and may God's blessing be upon Harvey and his family in this time of great lose.

Denny Kirk
Denny Kirk
November 23, 2019
Dear Family,

My sincere sympathy in this most difficult time.
I have so many wonderful memories of Harvey. He was the best.

Frank Smizik
November 23, 2019
My thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort.
November 23, 2019
As a neophyte patent attorney back in 1999, I was quite apprehensive about my first meeting with the "Chief Scientist" at Westinghouse R&&D. Would "Dr. Nathanson" blow me away with his technical knowledge? Would he become quickly frustrated with my lack of experience? But within minutes of introducing himself to me as "Harvey", I recognized that this man was special, and my fears were quickly alleviated. Yes, he was a technical genius, but he was able to communicate his ideas effectively to even the likes of me. We worked on many projects together over a number of years, and his creativity and work ethic always challenged me to excel in my profession. I have nothing but fond memories of our association, and I am proud to have known him. May you rest in peace, Dr. Nathanson...
David Maire
November 23, 2019
I am grateful to have met and spent time with Harvey and Esther over the past two years. Harvey made me laugh countless times and I admired his character and true sincerity. He was a brilliant man with a touching personality. My thoughts and prayers are with Harvey's family and friends.
November 23, 2019
No greater friend a man could have was Harvey Nathanson, but one who got me in trouble with his father. I walked into the pharmacy on day and his father excoriated me for letting Harvey take his car into the mountains and getting it stuck in the mud. When I explained that I was not involved in that enterprise, his father calmly apologized and asked me to keep Harvey out of trouble.
William Guentner
November 23, 2019
Dear Esther. And family, we're out of state now, but send our love your way! So sorry for your loss! Sheila and Tom
Sheila Savits
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