Schenectady

Memorial service Saturday for retired GE exec Walter Robb; First Capital Region resident claimed by COVID-19

Walter L. Robb in his office at Vantage Management in 2017. File Photo

Walter L. Robb in his office at Vantage Management in 2017. File Photo

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, Business, News, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna

NISKAYUNA — A memorial service will be held Saturday afternoon for Walter Robb, a pioneering General Electric researcher and executive and Capital Region entrepreneur.

Robb, a Niskayuna resident, was apparently the first Capital Region resident claimed by COVID-19 when he died at age 91 on March 23.

His wife, Anne, became infected with the virus around the same time but never developed symptoms and fully recovered, according to their son Rich.

Robb’s death came as the pandemic was peaking in New York state and as public gatherings were banned, so no funeral was held.

Now, with official restrictions on gatherings relaxed and COVID infecting relatively few New Yorkers, a celebration of Robb’s life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the First Reformed Church, 8 N. Church St. Robb was a longtime member.

There are still multiple precautions: Those wishing to attend are asked to preregister at www.1streformed.com. Masks will be required and social distancing will be in effect.

The main sanctuary at First Reformed seats 600. The church is aiming for maximum attendance there of 100. There is overflow capacity of up to 50 more if needed in the church’s Covenant Hall, where the service will be streamed.

The service also will be live-streamed on the church’s website.

However, church employees will try not to turn away anyone who’d like to attend in person.

Robb joined General Electric in 1951, initially working at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory. He led GE’s Medical Services division in Milwaukee for 13 years, overseeing development of the CT scanner and improvements in both MRI and ultrasound technology.

He returned to the Capital Region in 1986 to lead GE’s worldwide  research efforts out of Niskayuna, finally retiring in 1993 after 42 years with the company.

It was not a retirement, however. After leaving GE, Robb was a published author, owned the Albany Firebirds and Albany River Rats sports teams, and became involved in several successful ventures through his consulting company, Vantage Management.

He was very active right into his final days, family and colleagues said.

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