George Y. Onoda, Jr. 1938–2014
As an undergraduate just discovering the field of ceramic engineering in the mid-1970s, I recall an unassuming brown book with gold lettering, “Ceramic Processing Before Firing.” It was never referred to as that, though. It was always “Onoda and Hench,” for the editors of the book, George Y. Onoda, Jr., and Larry L. Hench.
The book is actually a proceedings from an eponymous conference held at the University of Florida in 1975. Instead of simply compiling the conference papers into a volume for quick publication, they took the time to edit the papers and organize them such that the volume could serve as a textbook for ceramic engineering students. In the book’s preface, they reveal that they were less interested in ceramic engineering and more interested in ceramic engineers. They wrote, “The book is not a descriptive discourse on how ceramics are processed. Other books are available for this purpose. We concentrate on the principles of processing in rather detailed fashion, with the intention of bringing about a better understanding of the science of processing.” [emphasis added] Onoda and Hench’s “untextbook” became a mainstay of ceramic engineering curricula, and there are many who still have the volume on their bookshelves. The book, published in 1978, is still in print—a testimony Onoda and Hench’s vision.
Sadly, Onoda died on Jan. 1, 2014 at the age of 75. His industrial career included ten years as manager of ceramic science at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., and research positions at IIT Research Center in Chicago and North American Aviation in California. However, the passion to teach was never far away. He was on the faculty of the University of Florida, Gainesville and joined Alfred University where he taught ceramic engineering from 1993–2002. He was also the technical director of the New York State Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology at Alfred University from 1993 to 1996.
Onoda was a Fellow of ACerS and the Sosman Lecturer in 2001. He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Carole, their three children, and five grandchildren.
A close and enduring friendship grew out of Onoda and Hench’s collaboration, and Hench sent this remembrance and tribute of his friend.
A Tribute to Dr. George Onoda
George Onoda was one of those rare individuals whose life touched the lives of many persons and each one benefited and grew from that touch.
George had a rare combination of talents; a keen intellect and understanding of nature and people, a warm heart and willingness to share it, a fine eye at the card or pool table and an inward joy of life that made him fun to be with whether it was professionally, personally or on the dance floor.
George, we will miss you and your laugh but you can rest assured that your legacy of contributions to the literature and accomplishments of your former students will last forever.
Your long time buddy and colleague,