Distinguished Professor of Kyoto University
Standardization and Quality Control
Vol. 55, No. 3, 2002, pp. 42-43
translated by Bryan Battey
According to a recent e-mail from our friend, Kenneth Hopper, Homer Sarasohn died September 28, 2000 at the age of 85 from complications of lymphoma. He was followed by his wife, Shirley, who died six weeks later on November 10.
During the World War II era in Japan, manufacturing quality was glaringly crude. This was especially true in the field of communications equipment, where these problems had a profound effect on joint military operations. So Sarasohn brought the country’s electric and communications equipment makers under the Civil Communications Section (CCS) of the Joint Military Command and was the lead man in promoting introduction of modern quality control measures, education and guidance in those industries.
Sarasohn also brought Charles Protzman, Frank Polkinghorn and other civilians into the action. Between 1948 and 1950 he set up required courses for top management of Fuji Communications, Furukawa Electrical Manufacturing, Hitachi, Matsushita Electric, Mitsubishi Electrical Equipment, Nippon Electric, Sony, Mitsunada (Three Oceans) Electrical Equipment, Sharp, Sumitomo Electrical Manufacturing, Toshiba and other companies and saw to it they took the course twice. This resulted in a huge boost to progress in postwar Japanese industry.
From November 1949 to January 1950 a required CCS course was held in Osaka. Not only was Sarasohn the first American to be principal speaker, but Mr. Inouye of Sumitomo Electric Industries brought along three other of their top executives.
At the time of the 1949 CCS Course, Sarasohn was 33 years young. He liked the motto of the Newport News Shipyard and used it in the text of the CCS Seminar:
We shall build good ships here at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always good ships.
Borrowing this thought for the present period, it is really saying quality control; but seizing quality control as an intrinsic thing, are we saying quality control above all, or quality-ism? No matter how we look at it, it needs serious study and is a fortunate thing for Japan.
In 1984 Mr. Nishimori Sanro signed the cover of “The Road to Quality Control” published by New Shares Chemical Company in the CCS Management Professional Series in Japanese. Below his signature are inscribed sentiments for Homer Sarasohn written by the participants in the 1995 CCS Research Center Seminar held in London at the Japanese Embassy. Their progress is detailed in Vols. 2, 3, etc. of the Seminar Proceedings.
Thereafter Sarasohn and his wife enjoyed a vigorous old age in Scottsdale, Arizona.
In September 2000 in Scottsdale the 8th Annual Service Quality Conference and the 7th Pacific Quality Organization Conference were held jointly. I wanted to meet Sarasohn one more time, and wrote him a letter. However, for reasons of health he had gone into the hospital and I couldn’t see him.
1) Kenneth Hopper: Quality, Japan and the U.S. The First Chapter, Quality Progress, Vol. 18, No. 9, pp.34-41
2) London CCS Research Center Seminar, Vol. 49, No. 4, pp.88-89, 1996
3) London CCS Research Center Seminar, QC 100, 90. pp.319-323, 1998 — Japan Standards
© Yoshio Kondo 2002