INFORMS NEWS: IN MEMORIAM - H. NEWTON GARBER

By Raj Nigam and Russ Labe

INFORMS-Px_Memoriam-Newt-Garber

Dr. H. Newton Garber – with a remarkable record of substantial contributions to the field of operations research and the management sciences, to its business applications and to its professional societies, extending over a period of 40 years – passed away on Feb. 7. He is survived by his wife Joan Garber, five children, 14 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Newt, as he was popularly known, was born on March 16, 1930. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 1952 and went on to MIT for graduate studies, where he worked with Professor Philip Morse at a time that marked the beginnings of the Operations Research Center at MIT. In 1956, he earned his Sc.D. in electrical engineering (there was no formally approved Ph.D. degree in operations research at that time).

Newt then joined Franz Edelman at RCA to apply operations research in business. The team they established at RCA, one of the earliest industrial O.R. groups in the United States, was an experiment at the time to see if the O.R. team could contribute to solving business problems in a corporate setting. Raj Nigam joined the group in 1970 when O.R. was just starting to become a company-wide function, and Russ Labe joined the group in 1979 when O.R. was a full-fledged, wellentrenched, company-wide function.

The situation changed substantially when GE acquired RCA in 1986; GE did not express interest in having a corporate O.R. Group. Newt led a successful team effort to convince Merrill Lynch to establish its first comprehensive Management Science Group with seven members from the RCA group. Raj and Russ joined this new group, which Newt headed as director, reporting to DuWayne Peterson, the chief technology officer at Merrill Lynch at the time. Newt later became a first vice president before retiring in 1991.

The O.R. group that Newt founded and that blossomed at RCA morphed into the Management Science Group at Merrill Lynch and continues to thrive today at the Bank of America.

During his career in practice, Newt was a mentor and coach to many OR/MS professionals both within his own group and among
his colleagues in ORSA, TIMS and INFORMS. He was always willing to take time to discuss both technical and management issues with colleagues, nurture their professional development and share insights of the keys to successfully practicing O.R. One of his ideas
was to establish a career program at RCA to help fresh OR/MS graduate students navigate the transition from academia to industry. Participants in the program rotated through four business applications during the course of their first year on the job. Projects were carefully selected to expose the analyst to a variety of different lines of business, project sponsors and business applications.

Newt became an early supporter of the annual TIMS Award, founded in 1971, which highlighted successful practice by serving as a judge starting in 1972. Upon Franz Edelman’s sudden death in 1982, Newt proposed and succeeded in having the name changed to the Franz Edelman Award. Over the years, Newt helped the prize grow in stature to become one of INFORMS’ crown jewels, and he guided and enhanced the prize’s competition process including verification, coaching and videotape documentation, and ended up serving as a judge for more than 30 years.

Newt was also a driving force in expanding the role of CPMS – the Practice Section of TIMS (in INFORMS now). He participated in most committees and held the offices of secretary, vice chair and chair of CPMS. Franz Edelman and Newt were able to secure pages in the journal Interfaces for an article focused on practice. The seed they planted turned into a standing “Practice Column” in
Interfaces for several years and eventually transitioned the journal into a completely practice-oriented publication.

Over the decades, Newt served on numerous committees and task forces of TIMS, ORSA, joint TIMS-ORSA and INFORMS. He participated in the founding committee for the Management Science Roundtable and was a member representative for both RCA and Merrill Lynch for many years. Newt was influential in voicing the value of operations research and management science to the public and the importance of practice to the O.R. professional community. He steadfastly helped to establish and sustain a public relations program, focused in the Public Information Committee of TIMS (which he chaired for several years), now a committee of INFORMS.

Newt was elected president-elect of TIMS in 1982, and served as its president from 1983-84. He was honored in 2001 by receiving the George E. Kimball Medal presented annually in recognition of distinguished service to the Institute and the profession of operations research and the management sciences. He was also recognized as an inaugural Fellow of INFORMS in 2002.

Dr. H. Newton Garber was truly a longtime stalwart of the OR/MS profession. His contributions will live on in the many traditions he helped develop and foster at RCA, Merrill Lynch, TIMS, CPMS, Roundtable and INFORMS. He will be missed.