It is with a sad heart that we once again have to announce the passing of another pillar of our society this year. On March 22nd, Bob Bannon passed away at the age of 70.
Bob’s support to IEEE and OES was nothing short of stellar. He seemed to be everywhere within IEEE and the OES. A member since 1985, he became a Senior member in 2001 and was elevated to IEEE FELLOW in 2003 for Oceanic Engineering Applications and Advanced Sensors Suites Integration. Bob received the OES Technical Achievement Award in 2009 and the OES Distinguished Service Award in 2013.
He served as the IEEE Publicity Visibility Initiative Fellow for Homeland and Maritime Security 2009–2011; served as a Member of the IEEE Technical Activities Board, 2006–2007; and the TAB Publications Committee, 2005–2007. He served as a Member of the IEEE-USA Technical Policy Committee on R&D, 2005–2008 and the Technical Committee on Critical Infrastructure Protection, Member 2006–2010. In the past Bob was a Member of the Communications, Power and Engineering, and Robotics and Automation Societies. He was the President of the Sensors Council (SC), 2006–2007, held various SC ExCom positions from 2001–2014, and received the SC 2008 Meritorious Service Award.
Bob has served the OES in a broad range of activities including 5 terms as a Member of the OES Administrative Committee during 2000–2017. He was the developer, coordinator and Co-chair of the Homeland Security Conferences 2003–2005, member of the RECON committee for the OCEANS Conference venue review and selection, and served as a Distinguished Lecturer. He has been a prolific reviewer of conference papers both for OES conferences as well as the Offshore Technology Conferences. Bob was an active participant in the development of the new Society Constitution and Bylaws and a major contributor to upgrading the Society website. He was the OES Rep to the Sensors Council AdCom and promoted OES waterborne interests in the Sensors and MEMS community.
Commercial Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) for communications, oil and gas industries, and military operations. Bob also provided Submarine Telecommunications and Power Industries technical and litigation support to multiple law firms involved in domestic and international Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Appellate Practice (AP) suits.
Formerly, Bob was a Director with AT&T and Bell Labs. He was instrumental in the development of special underwater protection, maintenance and repair techniques for AT&T and other Trans-Oceanic Communications Companies. He was responsible for designing special application ROVs, AUVs, and towed arrays and devices for government and commercial applications. He was the Chief Scientist and Sr. Systems Engineer for sensor data real time detection and identification for the U.S. Navy and other government applications. Bob was the Technical Lead for the US-Russian Homeland Security Congress 2005 in Moscow, and addressed the Russian Duma on behalf of the U.S. He was considered a leading expert on Maritime Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection. Bob’s education included a BSEE, MS, and multiple MBA’s from Pennsylvania State University, Wharton School—University of Pennsylvania and George Washington University.
Bob’s goal for OES was to encourage the professional development of ocean related engineering and applied science careers, and to represent the OES at international venues promoting oceans awareness and fostering responsible use of our precious resource and to interest students in oceans related scientific and engineering careers. And he was quite successful in achieving his goals.
“Bob was a tremendous asset to our RECON team as we evaluated international sites for future OCEANS conferences,” according to Bob Wernli. “Not only was he knowledgeable regarding international locations and concerns, he knew how to pick out a great wine during our dinners together.”
Although, according to Jim Barbera, he wasn’t perfect. “We were in Limerick checking it out for a place to have a conference. Bob got us rooms in a remodeled Marriott, as I recall, for our stay. He was on one of the higher floors. When he went to take a shower, it didn’t work. He called down and they sent up someone who also failed to get it to work. So, the solution was to take Bob across the hall wrapped in his towels to another room to get his shower. Definitely not on the top of our list for the host hotel.”
“We were also in Nashville for an IEEE event,” Jim said. “Bob was in a room on the ground floor with the lawn outside his window. When he arrived at his room after dinner, he heard some noise inside and the door appeared to be open so he called security. When they arrived and went into the room it turned out that a mouse in the wall apparently chewed on an electric wire and was now dead. So, it took some time to repair the wall fix the lock before he finally got to bed. Someone knocked on the door at about 2 am. It was someone from the front office bringing him a gift from the night manager to make up for the event. To be fair, he got phone number for the manager and called him right then to thank him, whether the manager was awake or not. The hotel did not get five stars.”
Kenichi Asakawa recalls his interaction with Bob. “Hearing the passing of Bob, I was deeply saddened, and remembered the days I worked with him and the friendship I received from him.
“It was at the 3rd International workshop on Scientific Use of Submarine Cables and Related Technologies (SSC03) in 2003 when I worked with him first. At that time, my colleagues and I were working to realize cabled scientific observation systems, and submitted a proposal to hold a workshop in Tokyo. Not only did he graciously support us, he also participated in this workshop and gave us valuable advice as a member of Advisory Committee of the workshop. Thanks to his cooperation, the workshop was a great success. Since then, we had another three SSC workshops, two of which were held with the symposium on Underwater Technology. He had contributed to all of these workshops. Furthermore, he had organized the technical committee “Submarine Cable Technology, Commercial and Scientific” in 2005, and lead it. His contribution in this field was worth of praise. Not just in this field, he has contributed to the development of many marine technologies, including Homeland Security, in addition to honoring his great achievements, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for his leadership and friendship. With my deepest condolences.”
According to the Candy’s, “Bob should be remembered for his generous time, energy and intellectual contributions. More importantly, Bob can be remembered as a man of deep Christian faith. Although the last years of his life were full of trials because of his failing health, he was blessed by his faith. He persevered like few others could have. He was heroic in his battle, thus making one mindful of Job. Bob fought his suffering valiantly, believing in God’s grace and mercy to carry him through. Bob’s faith and hope in Jesus Christ, as well as his love of family never wavered. May he rest in peace, remembered as a “big man” in many ways!”
Bob is survived by his loving wife of 51 years, Janet L. (Lummis) Bannon. He was born in Philadelphia on September 27, 1948 to the late Robert James and Anna Marie (Rowe) Bannon. Survivors include his children: Kara Lynn of East Stroudsburg, Bonnie Ann wife of William T. Adamski of Saylorsburg, Eileen M. of Marshalls Creek; sister: Patricia Ann Slough of Panama City, FL; grandchildren: Jacob William, Joshua Michael and Rylan Taylor Adamski.