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Colleagues and Friends Mourn ISO’s Lawrence D. Eicher

ASTM International joins the world standards developing community in mourning the loss of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Secretary-General Lawrence D. Eicher, who died March 21 at the age of 63. Eicher passed away several weeks after emergency heart surgery in Geneva, Switzerland.

An American citizen, Eicher was appointed ISO secretary-general in May 1986, having joined the organization as assistant secretary-general six years previously. His 38-year career spanned education, science, technology, administration, and management.

As secretary-general, based at the ISO Central Secretariat in Geneva, Eicher was responsible for the orderly conduct of technical, organizational and financial matters.

During his 16-year tenure, ISO evolved from an institution with a predominantly technological focus to a market-oriented organization whose standards are increasingly recognized as bringing, in addition to the technical problems they solve, wider social and economic benefits. This evolution has been accompanied by the recognition of ISO’s leading role in international standardization and the contributions its standards make to facilitating world trade and economic development, and to raising levels of quality, care of the environment, consumer protection, health, and safety.
Along with overseeing internal evolutions in business orientation, Eicher’s period of service was marked by the launching of ISO’s two families of management systems standards, ISO 9000 (quality) and ISO 14000 (environment), which have had a tremendous impact on enterprises and organizations of all types worldwide, as well as making ISO known to a far wider business audience than ever before. Eicher was personally responsible for having initiated the groundwork that allowed development of the first ISO 14000 standards in only three years.

Eicher received a doctorate in physical chemistry at Texas A&M University in 1972 and went on to work for the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. He was the author of numerous scientific papers and a textbook on chemical analysis.

In 1974, he joined the U.S. National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) and from then on remained in standardization, soon becoming involved at the international level. As the head of the NBS Office of Standards Information, Analysis, and Development from 1975 to 1979, his international work included chairmanship of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Advisory Group on the ISO International Standards Information Network (ISONET) and membership on the ISONET management board.

Appointed director of the NBS Office of Engineering Standards in 1979, he represented NBS on the board of directors of ANSI and was a member of the ANSI International Standards Council. He was, therefore, already well known in international standardization when he joined ISO in 1980.

Eicher was a recipient of many awards and honors in his long career, including the ASTM W.T. Cavanaugh Memorial Award (1989), the Top 100 Alumni Award, University of Northern Colorado (1989), and the Standards Engineering Society Leo B. Moore Medal (1991).

Messages of condolence are best addressed to Francine Forrest, Eicher’s personal assistant. Contributions in his memory may be made to Doctors Without Borders, Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS SA), rue de la Confederation 2, 1204 Geneve/GE, Switzerland (account number 240-376066-00Q). //