Homer Sarasohn, IEEE Life Member, died September 28, 2001 at the age of 85.
Mr. Sarasohn was 29 when General Douglas MacArthur summoned him to Tokyo to restore Japan’s communications industry following its destruction during World War II.
From 1946 through 1950, as chief of the Industry Branch of the occupation army’s Civil Communications Section (CCS), Mr. Sarasohn took the lead in helping Japan rebuild its capacity to manufacture radio, telephone, and telegraph equipment—and to assure the reliable quality of its industrial production.
Addressing the need to modernize management practices, Mr. Sarasohn instituted the CCS Management Seminars as a training program for senior executives in the communications industry.
Collaborating with CCS colleague Charles Protzman, an engineer from Western Electric, Mr. Sarasohn taught strategic planning, principles of organization, management policy formulation, product innovation, and quality assurance.
Those attending the seminars represented more than 100 companies, universities, and government agencies.
In teaching management science and quality assurance to those who went on to lead corporations such as Panasonic, Sony, Sharp, and Toshiba, Mr. Sarasohn emphasized the importance of defining organizational objectives and articulating a statement of purpose. In Fundamentals of Industrial Management (Maruzen Press, 1949), the book that Mr. Sarasohn co-wrote with Mr. Protzman as a text for the CCS seminars, Mr. Sarasohn stated:
The business enterprise must be founded upon a sense of responsibility to the public and to its employees. Service to its customers, the wellbeing of its employees, good citizenship in the communities in which it operates—these are cardinal principles fundamental to any business. They provide the platform upon which a profitable company is built.
Mr. Sarasohn introduced the concept and practice of statistical quality control with his second text, Statistical Quality Control in Industry (Maruzen Press, 1950).
Additionally, he established the Electrical Test Laboratory as part of a national system to certify product quality.
In 1950, having successfully revived Japan’s communications industry, Mr. Sarasohn invited Dr. W. Edwards Deming to Japan to provide further teaching on statistical quality control.
Following Mr. Sarasohn’s departure in 1950, Japanese training organizations continued to present the CCS seminar for the next twenty-five years, bringing it to groups beyond the communications industry. Fundamentals of Industrial Management remains in print in Japan. (The text was reedited in 1998 and is now available in electronic format).
Before General MacArthur called him to Japan, Mr. Sarasohn worked at Raytheon Manufacturing Company in Waltham, MA, where he designed, built, and installed an experimental microwave radio transmission system for wideband general communication use.
During World War II he worked at the MIT Radiation Lab and supervised the production of innovative radar systems for critical military applications.
Upon his return from Japan, Mr. Sarasohn worked as a management consultant with Booz, Allen & Hamilton in New York and later at IBM in several positions including Director of Engineering Communications.
During his tenure at IBM he made significant contributions to the integration of computerized data processing and telecommunications.
Before and after his retirement in 1977, Mr. Sarasohn served as a consultant and technical advisor on the exchange and dissemination of engineering information both nationally and worldwide. He was, for example, Technical Advisor to the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Science and Technology and a member of the U.S. delegations to Egypt and the Soviet Union.
Mr. Sarasohn served as an IEEE divisional director, president of the Engineering Management Society, and IEEE representative to the Russian Popov Society. He also organized and served as general chairman for the 14th Annual Joint Engineering Management Conference.
Mr. Sarasohn’s wife of 62 years, Shirley Sarasohn, died in November 2001. He is survived by their daughters Linda Kingdon and Lisa Sarasohn and by their grandchildren Sara and David Kingdon.