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Howard A. Zollinger

12/5/1929

7/19/2021

Donations in Howard’s name

May be made to

Capital Area Humane Society

(cahs-lansing.org)

7095 West Grand River Avenue

Lansing, MI 48906.

Howard A. Zollinger, 91, of Grand Rapids, passed away on June 19, 2021. Beloved husband of the late Wilma R. Zollinger, he is survived by his children, Glenna Zollinger-Russell, Lynn Zollinger (Tim Matthews), Karen (Sherman) Levin; and all of his grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and extended family.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Howard was a middling student who earned pedestrian grades in high school. But then—in a remarkable development—Howard’s brother introduced him to Michigan Technological University, who, recognizing a diamond-in-the-rough, accepted Mr. Zollinger into their next freshmen class. This opportunity presented Howard with a clean slate—a second chance of sorts—that would later define him.

A spark ignited inside Howard as he experienced a personal renaissance at Michigan Tech. He flourished in Tech’s academic environment as the foundations of engineering stimulated his mind to new levels. His focus expanded and sharpened; he absorbed complex mathematics, science, and pneumatic conveying principles. For the first time in his life, Howard excelled in class, building intellectual momentum that would propel him into an unparalleled career in bulk material handling that produced numerous professional honors, patents, and recognition across the world.

Howard and Michigan Tech were a perfect match. In addition to his academic achievements, Howard earned letters as both the varsity men’s basketball manager and varsity football manager. He served on the MTU Athletic Council as a student from 1948-51 and re-joined that body in 1998. After earning his BSEE in 1951, Howard joined Westinghouse Electric Corporation in Pittsburgh. While working, he attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned his MSEE in 1958 and a Business Management Certificate in 1961. Mr. Zollinger’s career was focused on creating, streamlining, and improving automated warehouses and conveyor systems—a challenge he undertook with vigor.

Howard started, expanded, and managed the Computer and Controls division of Rapistan Incorporated in Grand Rapids. His work at Rapistan led to his recruitment to Mannesmann Demag Corporation, the largest materials handling company in the world, as a vice president. Later in his career, Howard returned to Michigan Tech as a professor. During that extra decade in Houghton—which would prove to be a halcyon bridge between Mr. Zollinger’s non-stop career and a reluctant retirement—he and his wife established the Howard and Wilma Zollinger Endowed Basketball Fund while playing an integral role in the Pine Mountain Music Festival. One of the legendary supporters of the Michigan Tech athletic program, Howard was inducted into the Michigan Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Zollinger enjoyed a number of professional affiliations (including the Material Handling Institute). While work was Howard’s main driver, he also exhibited a robust passion for tennis—having played with unbridled enthusiasm at Grand Rapids’ East Hills and Crahen athletic clubs past the age of 87. Accepting retirement may have been hard, but having to retire from tennis was even harder.

In retirement, Howard returned to the Grand Rapids area, where he enjoyed spending time with his family and rescue dogs. Long interested in wood-working, he also developed an appreciation for bird-watching later in life. And, of course, his yard was the best-manicured lawn on the block.

Howard approached life with the precision of an engineer, and the drive of someone determined not to squander a second chance. Punctuality was a paramount value; fortitude was a permanent attribute. Focused, organized ,and methodical, Howard was a true perfectionist. Yet, he was also extremely logical—and kind. He wouldn’t hesitate to offer someone a helping hand, nor to share his many conversational insights on the mechanics of life. Indeed, Howard’s legacy is vast and multifaceted, layered with lessons and accomplishments. Such are the mechanics of a well-spent life.

As Howard would tell you, it’s “not necessary” to send flowers. Rather,

Howard A. Zollinger, 91, of Grand Rapids, passed away on June 19, 2021. Beloved husband of the late Wilma R. Zollinger, he is survived by his children, Glenna Zollinger-Russell, Lynn Zollinger (Tim Matthews), Karen (Sherman) Levin; and all of his grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and extended family.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Howard was a middling student who earned pedestrian grades in high school. But then—in a remarkable development—Howard’s brother introduced him to Michigan Technological University, who, recognizing a diamond-in-the-rough, accepted Mr. Zollinger into their next freshmen class. This opportunity presented Howard with a clean slate—a second chance of sorts—that would later define him.

A spark ignited inside Howard as he experienced a personal renaissance at Michigan Tech. He flourished in Tech’s academic environment as the foundations of engineering stimulated his mind to new levels. His focus expanded and sharpened; he absorbed complex mathematics, science, and pneumatic conveying principles. For the first time in his life, Howard excelled in class, building intellectual momentum that would propel him into an unparalleled career in bulk material handling that produced numerous professional honors, patents, and recognition across the world.

Howard and Michigan Tech were a perfect match. In addition to his academic achievements, Howard earned letters as both the varsity men’s basketball manager and varsity football manager. He served on the MTU Athletic Council as a student from 1948-51 and re-joined that body in 1998. After earning his BSEE in 1951, Howard joined Westinghouse Electric Corporation in Pittsburgh. While working, he attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned his MSEE in 1958 and a Business Management Certificate in 1961. Mr. Zollinger’s career was focused on creating, streamlining, and improving automated warehouses and conveyor systems—a challenge he undertook with vigor.

Howard started, expanded, and managed the Computer and Controls division of Rapistan Incorporated in Grand Rapids. His work at Rapistan led to his recruitment to Mannesmann Demag Corporation, the largest materials handling company in the world, as a vice president. Later in his career, Howard returned to Michigan Tech as a professor. During that extra decade in Houghton—which would prove to be a halcyon bridge between Mr. Zollinger’s non-stop career and a reluctant retirement—he and his wife established the Howard and Wilma Zollinger Endowed Basketball Fund while playing an integral role in the Pine Mountain Music Festival. One of the legendary supporters of the Michigan Tech athletic program, Howard was inducted into the Michigan Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Zollinger enjoyed a number of professional affiliations (including the Material Handling Institute). While work was Howard’s main driver, he also exhibited a robust passion for tennis—having played with unbridled enthusiasm at Grand Rapids’ East Hills and Crahen athletic clubs past the age of 87. Accepting retirement may have been hard, but having to retire from tennis was even harder.

In retirement, Howard returned to the Grand Rapids area, where he enjoyed spending time with his family and rescue dogs. Long interested in wood-working, he also developed an appreciation for bird-watching later in life. And, of course, his yard was the best-manicured lawn on the block.

Howard approached life with the precision of an engineer, and the drive of someone determined not to squander a second chance. Punctuality was a paramount value; fortitude was a permanent attribute. Focused, organized ,and methodical, Howard was a true perfectionist. Yet, he was also extremely logical—and kind. He wouldn’t hesitate to offer someone a helping hand, nor to share his many conversational insights on the mechanics of life. Indeed, Howard’s legacy is vast and multifaceted, layered with lessons and accomplishments. Such are the mechanics of a well-spent life.

As Howard would tell you, it’s “not necessary” to send flowers. Rather, please donate in Howard’s name to the Capital Area Humane Society (cahs-lansing.org), 7095 West Grand River Avenue, Lansing, MI 48906.

A celebration of Howard’s life will be held on September 3, 2021, from 3:00-5:00 pm at Smokey Bones Restaurant, 4875 28th Street SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49512.

 

 

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