In Memoriam

A Statement from the Trustees & Councils of the Kilby Awards Foundation

Jack St. Clair Kilby receiving the Nobel Prize from His Majesty the King of Sweden in 2000. Photo: Hans Mehlin,

June 21, 2005

The Trustees of the Kilby International Awards announce with deep sadness the passing on June 20, 2005 of Nobel Laureate, Jack St. Clair Kilby, the namesake of the Awards. Friends and admirers created these Awards in 1990 as a living tribute to Mr. Kilby and his seminal invention of the Chip, the monolithic integrated circuit. Kilby's invention became the essential and key component of the information society, truly revolutionizing the world.

On behalf of the Trustees, Councils, Laureates, Patrons and hundreds of volunteers across the world who have served on Committees in support of the Awards and the ScholarChips Broadcast Program, Chairman, Victoria Smith Downing, said,

"We have lost a wonderful friend, a man of honor, humility, ethics, and humor. Our heartfelt condolences are with his daughters, Ann and Janet and his grandchildren. Jack Kilby, the quintessential engineer/inventor, perfectly exemplified the power of one creative individual to change the world, forever."

"For a moment in time and history, it has been our privilege to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary and on-going impact of the contributions of Jack Kilby through recognition of the 60 Kilby Laureates, who, though virtually unknown, like Kilby, continue to give generously of their own vast creative gifts for the benefit of humanity."

"Unquestionably, Jack Kilby's favorite aspect of this endeavor was meeting the Laureates and participating with them in the Video Broadcasts that provided Role Models to inner city and rural students in underserved communities across the world. Someday, those young people will realize what a rare gift they experienced the day they met Mr. Kilby."

The Kilby International Laureates include visionaries from the broadest cross section of science, math, physics, marine biology, anthropology, medicine, aerospace, nanotechnology, innovation in education, invention, and profound discoveries at the intersections of the sciences, even a recent winner of the Van Cliburn Piano Competition whose day job is at MIT.

A sampling of Laureates of the Kilby Awards includes such individuals as Tim Berners Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, Martin Schwab, leading Swiss researcher in spinal cell rejuvenation, Vinton Cerf, Father of the Internet, Marc Hannah, co-founder of Silicon Graphics, Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, the open source software which is changing the world, Sylvia Earle, Marine Biologist & Explorer in Residence at National Geographic, Hans Herren, Swiss Scientist at ICIPE, Nairobi, Michael Zasloff, biotech entrepreneur, Francine Patterson, founder of the Gorilla Habitat in Hawaii, who taught Koko the gorilla sign language, Richard Smalley, who after receiving the Kilby Award also received the Nobel Prize, and their fellow Laureates in seventeen countries.

The legacy of Jack St. Clair Kilby lives on through these Laureates of diversity and distinction.

The Trustees, in creating this Awards program in 1990, sought to set standards of such independence and integrity that the Awards would earn a place in history without boundaries of geography, culture, or country and consequently, properly honor Jack Kilby and his Chip which knows no bounds and these extraordinary Laureates. In recent years, the Kilby International Awards were named one of the top 116 awards in the world by the International Congress of Distinguished Awards following a study of 26,400 awards, worldwide.


Messages from Friends of the Kilby Mission

Sir Brian Heap

Jury Chairman, Sir Brian Heap, Master, St. Edmonds College, Cambridge University, said, "The work of Jack Kilby will resonate for years to come through his fundamental discoveries: his name will persist because of the selection of Kilby Fellows, Laureates noted for their innovations that have influenced lives throughout the developed and less developed world." Former Jury Chairman, Nobel Laureate, Johann Deisenhofer, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, UT Southwestern Medical Center, " Jack Kilby was a quiet man whose inventions changed the world. Mankind has lost one of the best.

Dr. Vinton G. Cerf

"Jack was the quintessential engineer. He cared much more about figuring out how to do things than he did for fame, notoriety or blowing his own horn. He may have seemed shy and retiring in the limelight of publicity, but he was anything but that in the lab and in debates on making things work. I am pretty sure he was very pleased with the way in which the integrated circuit was taken up by so many who grasped the concept and worked tirelessly to take it to new levels of functionality and density. By the time Jack was recognized with a well-deserved Nobel Prize, his conception was running into challenges of the extremely small at the atomic level. Although he wasn't much for galas and the like, he always showed up for the Kilby Awards and his presence gave gravity to the proceedings. He was an eminence grise in the field and it was and is an honor to carry the title Kilby Laureate. We will miss but remember this gentle giant to whom the world of electronics owes much."

France Cordova

Laureate & Chancellor, University of California, Riverside, Astrophysicist, France Cordova, said, "Please let his family know that his Laureates are moved by his passing, and will always remember him and his achievements. I know I will try to live up to the ideals that characterized his life."

Henry Gilchrist

Longtime Kilby Patron and Advisory Board Chairman, Henry Gilchrist, Jenkens & Gilchrist, said," The days when one person can make such a positive impact on society are largely gone. Jack was truly a visionary pioneer who changed our lives."

Michael Hawley

The First Kilby Laureate, Young Innovator, Michael Hawley, former MIT Professor and recipient of the Van Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition, said, " To me, Jack epitomized what it meant to have a lever big enough to move the world. Of course, he invented the lever, and kept on inventing in a quiet, but powerful way. I was struck by how humble and soft-spoken Jack was. He didn't seem to be burdened by any of the ego or arrogance that clouds so many other characters. It was almost as if his modesty grew in proportion to the magnitude of his contribution. I find that stance deeply inspiring. It's been a real honor to be a small player in the extended family of people who have been inspired by Jack's work and who in our own ways extended it in spirit. I hope others will take note of Jack's passing and find inspiration in his work and in his manner. He was a gentle giant."

John Hocker

In a call to the Kilby Awards Foundation, John Hocker, President of the National Science & Technology Medals Foundation, Washington, D. C. said, "It was with great sadness that the National Science & Technology Medals Foundation learned of the passing of Jack Kilby. Although there have been 409 National Medal of Science Laureates and 140 National Technology Laureates, there have been only 13 individuals who received both medals. Jack was one of these. He was certainly an inspiration to many of the National Medal Laureates who followed him and to those of us who became aware of his achievements."

Dr. Hans Herren

"I will forever be most proud of being a Kilby Award Laureate, this unique award that recognizes the major characteristics of Jack St. Clair Kilby, creativity and humanity. The culmination of the Kilby award ceremonies was for me to be given the awards medal by Jack and the opportunities to discuss and exchange ideas about our experiences, the world and life over brunch, under a tree in the Crow's family garden. Jack was a shy and very humble and modest person. He truly can be credited with having changed the way the world works and it was a tremendous honor to have been selected to carry an award with his name and having met him. I shall always remember my surprise when I got the phone call announcing the award! How could so much honor come down on me from so high!

To receive the Kilby Award has given me strength in many ways, not the least in the fact that work, carried out far away from the TV news and newspaper headlines can be valued. That work to better the conditions of over half of humanity, that has been left behind by industrial development, is being considered and recognized. It has given me more and new impetus to continue and expand activities in international development. It has also given me the opportunity to work closely with the Kilby Awards Foundation in connecting with the poor and undeserved youth from around the world.

Jack Kilby was the ultimate role model and not enough can ever be done to bring him to the attention of the many potential Nobel laureates sitting on rough benches in bush schools, where there is no light, few books and no computers.

Ms. Victoria Downing's relentless efforts to bring about the Kilby Award and its different set of activities such as the awards symposia and the school broadcasts are an extension of Jack Kilby's humanity. I t is my hope that all of us, the Kilby Laureates and friends of the Kilby Awards Foundation will keep it alive. There is much more that can be done in the name of Jack Kilby, much more to carry forward and up his commitment to, and example for, a better world.

Jack, your grandeur and presence will always be with us. Rest in Peace."


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