Walter Robb, the leader of GE’s medical imaging division throughout the 1970s and 1980s, died this week from COVID-19. He was 92.
According to reports in the March 23 Daily Gazette in Schenectady, N.Y., Robb became ill on the previous Sunday, eventually succumbing to COVID-19-related organ failure.
Under Robb’s leadership, GE made significant strides in developing and producing medical imaging equipment, including CT, MRI, and ultrasound. All three areas went on to become profitable for the company.
“Walt Robb was a true builder in every sense of the word with GE,” said Vic Abate, chief technology officer at GE and Global Research division leader. “As CEO of GE Healthcare and later head of the Research Lab in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, he led the growth of new Healthcare businesses in MR and CT imaging and greatly strengthened the connectivity between the lab and GE’s businesses in advancing cutting edge technologies.”
Robb’s tenure at GE began in 1951 when he joined the company, initially working for its Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Schenectady. He later moved to the GE Medical Systems division (known today as GE Healthcare), located in Milwaukee, where he assumed the helm from 1973 to 1986.
After leaving GE Medical Systems in 1986, the Daily Gazette reported, Robb moved back to New York. Despite moving, he remained with GE, taking on the role as director of GE Global Research in Schenectady. He was the first engineer to be appointed to this position, and he held that it until he retired in 1993.
In recognition for his work at GE in CT and MRI, Robb received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Bill Clinton in 1993. Throughout retirement, he continued to serve as a board of directors member for many companies. He also became an active philanthropist and owned several minor league sports teams.