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Industry Pioneer and Engelberger Award Winner George Munson Passes Away

Robotic Industries Association

George MunsonGeorge E. Munson of Heritage Village, Southbury, Connecticut died peacefully at home, September 28, surrounded by family. He was the loving husband of Marcella P. Munson who was a devoted caregiver during his extended illness. Mr. Munson earned his physics degree from the University of Connecticut in 1951. He was a highly intelligent and creative man.

In the late 1950's Munson was one of a small group of engineers and physicists who conceived and developed the Unimate, ushering in the age of industrial robotics. In 1962, this development group formed what was to become the premier robotics company in the world, Unimation, Inc. He held various positions in the company, including Manager of Application Engineering, Manager of Marketing and Sales and Vice President of the Systems Division. Munson often lectured at national and international conferences and symposia and has written numerous articles, the most recent of which was published in Robot magazine in December 2010.

During his career with Unimation and thereafter, Munson was active in the robotics industry as a leader and spokesman both here and abroad. He was one of the founders of Robotics International, an association of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, for which he served as president during the 1985-1986 term. He served as a director of SME in 1988, and was a member of the International Federation of Robotics executive committee. In 1988, SME honored him as a Fellow in the organization. In 2003, he received the prestigious Joseph F. Engelberger award for applications in robotics. This award recognizes the most significant contributions to the advancement of robotics and automation in the service of human kind. Nominations are received from 26 nations worldwide. George had a great love for history, the sea, his church, family and the richness of friendships. Family time was often spent "puttering" about the Thimble Islands in the Sea Bum. He was a voracious reader of historically based stories of adventure on the high seas.

During his retirement years he became part of that history in his role as engineer and docent on the tall ship, Pilgrim, based at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, California. Until illness limited his mobility, George was an active member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. He had a very deep faith and he knew Jesus as his Lord and Savior. George and Marcella were adventurers. In their retirement, they spent five years exploring the North American continent in their motor home, "September Song." Travel via motorhome enabled them to share this time of their lives as friends and family members joined them along the way.

George was generous and loyal. He was a teacher to many even up to his dying day. He will be greatly missed by his loving wife, Marcella; his daughter, Pamela M. Tweed and her husband David of Newport Beach, California; his son, George E. Munson III of Sacramento, California; his daughter Susan M. Johnson and her husband, Allan, of Southbury, Connecticut; and his grandchildren, Josh, Cassie, Ian, and Jessi. He is survived by his sister, Beverly Fader of Massachusetts. He was predeceased by his sister, Shirley Munson Smith.
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