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Born on a Jackson County farm in 1920, Fritz Russ graduated in 1942 from Ohio University with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. That year, he also married Dolores Houser. Unknowingly, the two grew up 15 miles apart from each other.
Fritz worked for the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., during World War II and later became assistant director of the Industrial Research Laboratory in Baltimore, Md. The couple moved to Dayton in 1948 when Fritz began work for the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where he developed missile guidance and control systems. In 1955, the Russes founded one of the nation's leading electronic and automation corporations, Systems Research Laboratories (SRL).
The couple built SRL from the ground up, literally pouring the footers for the building's foundation themselves in 1955. Prior to its merger with Arvin Industries in 1987, SRL served as a leader in the electronics and automation industries, specializing in computerized electronics and laser technology, artificial intelligence, and projects geared toward the United States government. The firm’s research was instrumental in developing technology for the space program, including astronaut testing and remote health monitoring of astronauts. After the merger, Fritz and Dolores founded a consulting firm, Russ Venture Group.
In 1994, the Ohio University's Board of Trustees established the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology in honor of the couple, whose unprecedented estate gift of $124 million is the largest to any public or private engineering school in the country. Both Fritz and Dolores have dedicated their lives to the engineering discipline — not only with donating funds for the development of one of America’s premier engineering colleges, but also for the founding of SRL.
Several years after the Russ College was named, the Russes endowed funds to present the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize to recognize the work of engineers that improves the human condition. The prize, which is jointly administered by Ohio University and the National Academy of Engineering, is the top bioengineering prize in the world. It represents the pinnacle of success after the hard work and dedication engineers show to truly help the people within society live to their fullest potential.
Fritz passed away Nov. 3, 2004, at the age of 84. His innovation, vision and technical expertise spanned an engineering career of more than 55 years and many engineering firsts. Dolores passed away Jan. 2, 2008, in Naples, Fl. She was 86.
The above biographical information was excerpted from "The Russ Influence-A Biography of Fritz and Dolores Russ" by David Neal Keller.
Remembering Dr. Fritz Russ
Dr. Fritz J. Russ, alumnus, longtime benefactor and treasured friend of Ohio University and the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology, passed away Nov. 3, 2004. He was 84. His innovation, vision and technical expertise spanned an engineering career of more than 55 years and many engineering firsts. Read more...