Pam Horner Reflects on the Life of Dr. Ian Lewin

This week, the lighting community lost too soon one of its brightest stars, Dr. Ian Lewin. Together with his family and friends in Scottsdale, we grieve for this terrible loss.

Of course we knew Ian for the many prestigious positions he held – President and founder of Lighting Sciences, Co-founder of Environmental Research Laboratories,and President of the IES. We knew him for the honors and awards he received during his nearly 50-year involvement in lighting – IES Medal and Marks recipient, Fellow of the IES, and honorary life member of the Institution of Lighting Engineers, UK. And we were awed by the breadth and depth of his involvement in so many organizations – IES, Optical Society of America, American Institute of Physics, SPIE, CIE, and SAE.

But for those privileged to call him friend, we saw the funny and gracious side of Ian.  I recall a meeting nearly 20 years ago in Scottsdale. Of course it was a meeting about lighting, and of course Ian contributed brilliant points and demonstrations regarding adaptation luminance in the nighttime environment. But he also invited us to his home and wowed us with his fabulous collection of jukeboxes and 45s.  Who knew he loved to party to that old-time music?

Everyone who knew him can testify to his passion for lighting, to his unselfish gift of time to the organizations he loved, and to his devotion to family and friends. But we can also testify to his humor, wit, and undeniably articulate nature. Just one month ago he sent me the following message, to be shared with IES Past Presidents at our recent annual conference:

“I am sorry not to be attending this year. Julie and I are on a plane to Australia on the day of the Past Presidents’ lunch. We will raise our glasses to you, and no, I will not be wearing my IES tie.  The last year has been good to us. Since selling Lighting Sciences I have continued with my expert witness services, but in January I decided to draw that gradually to a close. I am now wrapping up old cases in anticipation of slowly fading off into the sunset. Julie and I are traveling to interesting places and have had some wonderful trips this year. I am spending time indulging in my many hobbies, and life for both of us is very pleasant.”


And now he is gone, fading too quickly into that sunset. Ian, we will miss you.


Contributed by Pamela Horner, IES President, 2001-2002

20 Nov