Louis George Tornatzky, Jr. 1940 – 2022

Written by Estero Bay News

July 1, 2022

Louis George Tornatzky, Jr. passed away peacefully on May 29th, 2022 surrounded by his family, books, and art at the age of 82. He is survived by his wife, three sons, one daughter, six grandchildren, one sister, and three nephews.

Lou was born into a hard-working family. He grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, with two sisters. He blossomed into a studious hell-raiser and captain of his high-school football team. Electing to serve his country right out of high school, the Marine Corps expanded his world view.

After military service, he returned to Ohio, graduating with honors from Ohio State University. During his tenure at OSU, Lou sued the college over free speech issues and won (Schwartz, Tornatzky, Wilkinson vs. The Ohio State University 1963). Lou’s attendance at the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King during this time became a defining moment of his life. He became a lifelong supporter of social causes and believed deeply in fighting for justice and against fascism.

He returned to the West Coast and earned his Masters and Ph.D. in Organizational and Social Psychology from Stanford University. Alongside his studies in Palo Alto, Lou dabbled with becoming a sculptor. Evidence remains: a 12 ft. owl made out of car parts at a home in Palo Alto.

Lou spent the next twenty years working and teaching in Washington, D.C., at the National Science Foundation, and in and around Michigan State University. He authored and co-authored many books, monographs, reports, and papers. This time of his life served as the basis for many of his lifelong friends and colleagues, particularly while working at Industrial Technology Institute in Ann Arbor. During the early heyday of the economic boom of the Raleigh-Durham area, Lou assumed a role as Director for the Southern Growth Policies Board in North Carolina where he was responsible for growing tech sectors among 16 Southern States and Puerto Rico.

Lou returned to California where he lived in Silverado, an old mining town, and he served as senior scholar and vice president for research at the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute and Select University Technologies. Later, he moved to Los Osos/Baywood Park on the Central Coast. He spent the final years of his career working at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he was a department chair and professor of Industrial Technology. His happiest achievement there was co-founding the Cal Poly Center of University Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center.

After retiring, Lou spent many years in civic duty as a director on the Los Osos Community Services District and as a docent for Friends of the Elephant Seal. Regardless of location or time period, he always was a significant contributor to the many lives he touched. Students, peers, family, and strangers can attest to his affable character that was filled with humor, passion, and love.

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