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Fellows Profile
By Tom Godfrey, OSSC Historian

-Al Shurkus-

(12 Apr 1918 - 19 July 2007)


Albert "Al" Shurkus, is a World War I war baby born in Rochester, New York on April 12, 1918.  Upon graduation from high school, he entered the Institute of Optics of the University of Rochester.  Upon graduation with only 6 others in 1940 he became one of less than 100 "Graduates with Optics as a Major" in the country.


Al joined Bausch & Lomb in their Scientific Bureau as a lens designer, later as an optical systems designer.  He established the electro-optics laboratory where spectrophotometers, electronic colorimeters, infrared spectrometers and the like were developed.  This was during World War II when neither "electro-optical" nor this engineering endeavor had been defined.  He worked with Willard Perkins (another OSSC Fellow), Dr. Wilbur Rayton, Leon Foster, Jim Benford, Art Levin, Bruce Horsfall, Carl Bausch, Jack Forest, Harold Straat, and Dr. Francis Turner.

In 1949, a colleague joined North American Aviation's Astrophysics Lab.  Soon afterwards Al received an offer he couldn't refuse, to join the effort on a stellar-assisted guidance system on the Navaho, an early air breathing intercontinental ballistic missile which had a successful initial flight of 5,000 miles.  He was associated with Dr. John Bower, Dr. Willoughby Cady and Dr. Bruce Horsfall.

When Bausch & Lomb bought out the company, he moved on to Kearfott in Little Falls, NJ as Manager of Administration and Control of the Electronics Division and, a dual responsibility, Optical Consultant on their Air Force contract for a Star Tracker Test Bed. 


Next, Al moved on to the Applied Research Laboratories in Glendale, California an important spectrochemical equipment manufacturer, eventually becoming Production Division Manager and Assistant to the President, a bifurbicated responsibility.  He was associated with Dr. Maurice Hasler, R.W. Lindhurst, Dr.John Wood,  During this time he joined with Howard Cary, Armin Hill, Reed Lawler, Roland Hawes, Eugene Thorburn and others that decided that there was a need for a Southern California Optical Society.  Al Shurkus became 7th OSSC President in 1957.

Time passed and Al returned to California to join Northrop Space Labs as Chief, Mid-Course Surveillance Section.  He was associated with Dr. Satyendra, Tom Godfrey, and OSSC Fellow George Matter.

When Northrop phased out the Space Labs, Shurkus moved to Aerojet ElectroSystems as the System Engineer for a star tracker system to be used on the Defense Support System (DPS), the primary defense system during the Cold War.  Following success on this project he moved into the position of Associate Program Manager of the Defense Support Program.


Al retired in 1980 and moved to San Marcos.  Until 1986, he consulted to Aerojet ElectroSystems Defense Support Program.  Following his wife's death in 1984 he remarried and moved to Lake San Marcos.  Al Shurkus died on July 19, 2007. His wife Joyce died in July, 2009.



Corporate Address:  14271 Jeffrey Road, Suite 136
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The OSSC is a non-profit 501(C)3 tax exempt corporation.
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Updated: 16 September 2019
Added 9 October Meeting Registration