OSA | Living History

Stephen Fantone Memoir

My story begins at the 1974 Annual Meeting of the OSA  - it was held at the Rice Hotel in Houston Texas.  I was 21 years old and this was not only my first OSA meeting, but it was also the first technical conference I had ever attended.  I was a first year grad student at the Institute of Optics and I was to give a paper on my undergraduate thesis work at MIT.  I was young and frankly quite scared and intimidated by the prospect of having to stand in front of an audience with far more education and experience than I had.  I nervously gave my paper and the audience seemed appreciative of my work and the Q&A went well.

I was beginning to relax and part of the day’s activities was to take a tour of the Johnson Space Flight Center.  As I hopped on the bus headed for the JSFC, there was an open seat near the front and I sat next to an older man in a suit who initiated a conversation with me. He was interested in my background, my aspirations, and commented on my enthusiasm for optics. I of course asked him about his background and he told me he worked at a company in Boston, ITEK Corporation.  His name was Dow Smith.  Little did I know he was the president of the OSA that year.  I had no idea of his place within the optical industry at the time. But he made me feel comfortable with the group and it was the beginning of a professional acquaintance that lasted until his passing in 2002.  Dow later served as Treasurer of OSA from 1980-1992 and his warmth at our initial meeting presaged and inspired my own long term service with the society as Treasurer from 1996-2013.

Stephen Fantone, OSA Fellow and Past Treasurer
President, Optikos