To avoid system errors, if Chrome is your preferred browser, please update to the latest version of Chrome (81 or higher) or use an alternative browser.
Click here to login if you're an NAE Member
Recover Your Account Information
This is the sixteenth volume in the series of Memorial Tributes compiled by the National Academy of Engineering as a personal remembrance of the lives and outstanding achievements of its members and international members. These volumes are intended to stand as an enduring record of the many contributions of engineers and engineering to the benefit of humankind. In most cases, the authors of the tributes are contemporaries or colleagues who had personal knowledge of the interests and the engineering accomplishments of the deceased.
BY STAN HOROWITZ
WALT ELMORE was recognized as one of the world’s lead- ing experts in protective relaying, an engineering discipline that is vital to the safe and economic performance of electric power systems. His technical achievements are legendary. Walt was affiliated with the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, which was later absorbed into ABB Power T&D. He retired in 1996 and died on January 20, 2010, at the age of 84.
Born in Bartlett, Tennessee, on October 2, 1925, Walt was active in a wide variety of activities. He was a life Boy Scout and a navigator in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Following the war, Walt went to the University of Tennessee and in 1949 earned a B.S. in electrical engineering. He began his technical career at Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division, in the substation design department. In 1951 he went to Westinghouse Electric Corporation, where he was an application and consulting engineer for the next 38 years.
Teaching was a large part of Walt’s activities. He participated in hundreds of customer schools in Newark and later in Coral Springs. Walt’s unique contribution was recognized by Westinghouse/ABB in the naming of a Coral Springs office building in his honor. A protective-relaying textbook, Applied Protective Relaying, which was published by Westinghouse in 1979 and is a standard text for all utility engineers, contains a half-dozen chapters written by Walt.
Walt taught protective-relaying classes at Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Washington State University, and numerous Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers/Power System Relaying Committee (IEEE/PSRC) conventions and seminars. His homespun, no-nonsense approach to the mathematics, application, and manufacturing details of electromechanical relays, followed by solid-state and eventually computer relaying, was essential to understanding the overall value of power system protection.
His outstanding technical abilities were evidenced in the five patents he was awarded and the over 50 papers he wrote and presented at international, national, and regional conferences. Walt’s discussion of papers presented at the various conferences added value and substance to this specialized literature. Walt’s participation in the IEEE/PSRC Power Engineering Society (PES) is especially noteworthy. He was a life fellow of the IEEE, past chairman of the Technical Council (the organization that directs the technical activities of the PES and past chairman of the IEEE/PES Power System Relaying Committee.
His impact on electric power systems was worldwide. As a leader of these committees, he influenced the research and practice of protection, operation, and control of electric power systems to a degree that cannot be overemphasized. Along the way, Walt garnered honors that hardly begin to describe his impact on electric power. Citations from the IEEE honors such as IEEE’s Gold Medal for Engineering Excellence, a PSRC Award for Distinguished Service, Texas A&M’s award for the most prolific author, and ABB’s dedication of a building in his honor present only small evidence of Walt’s impact on the industry and society in general.
I had the pleasure and honor to be a close friend of Walt and his wife Jane for over 50 years. We met at all the PSRC meetings and other PES functions. I saw firsthand the impact Walt had on other engineers during discussions at working group and subcommittee meetings. He contributed technical, historical, philosophical, and sensible discussions with humor that endeared him to all of those present. Knowing Walt’s background and expertise, all of his comments were accepted and included in all of the papers and other technical organization output.
The PSRC had a 50th anniversary during Walt’s tenure as chairman, and his remarks at a dinner are still recorded as a milestone event. In addition to this special event, Walt participated in the technical and social activities of countless engineering functions. Not content with only technical areas of interest, Walt was a regular at the Monday morning “Golfing Subcommittee” meetings played regularly before the serious business of the PSRC began.
Walt is survived by Jane Huey, his wife of 59 years; his three daughters—Robin Spicer, Jamie West, and Laura Elmore; six grandchildren; and two sons-in-law. After Walt’s retirement from Westinghouse/ABB, he continued to attend technical meetings and never introduced himself without mentioning Jane and the family of which he was so proud. He was a giant of the industry and will be sorely missed.