Electro-Voice founder was a friend to all

Published 6:14 am Monday, June 20, 2005

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Niles Daily Star
Albert R. Kahn will be remembered as an inventor, a successful businessman, and father. He is also remembered by one former employee as "a friend to everyone who knew him."
The founder of Electro-Voice Inc. in Buchanan, died on Wednesday, June 15, at age 98, at his home on Howell Drive by Diamond Lake. Once a summer lake home, he later retired to Cassopolis.
Don Kirkendall of Beechwood Drive in Niles, now 82, retired from Electro-Voice, after serving as the advertising manager. He recalled Kahn's years as president of the company, from its founding July 1, 1930 until the business was sold in 1969.
Electro-Voice merged with Gulton Industries and in 1970, Kahn started a radio equipment manufacturing company, Ten-Tec in Sevierville, Tenn.
He added, "he was responsible for a number of inventions." Kirkendall explained how the business grew rapidly during World War II with the sale of microphones to all the branches of the military.
One item which helped the troops win the war, Kirkendall said, was a noise cancelling mobile unit used inside tanks. Before that it was difficult to be heard over the noise of the tank.
That same technology used during the Mercury, Gemini and Skylab space missions, is still used in modern communication today.
Another of his inventions produced the name for his company. The story repeated many times is of Kahn coming to the aid of University of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne.
Kahn and his partner Lou Burroughs were asked to design a system of speakers, so Rockne couch oversee four squads of players practicing, all at the same time.
Rockne, who was pleased with the results, called that first portable public address system his "electric voice," which later was changed to Electro-Voice.
It wasn't all easy for Kahn. The money didn't just roll in. He struggled through the depression and assumed his partner's debts when he left. Real earnings were not seen until about 1933.
In 1936, Electro-Voice had 20 employees. Burroughs returned in 1936 as chief engineer.
With production of the T45s noise-canceling microphone in demand from the military, the plant in Buchanan was working three shifts, seven days a week.
The Army/Navy "E" Award Kahn received in 1945, for supplying the War Department with thousands of microphones during WWII
Kahn was born July 9, 1906 in La Salle, Ill. and moved to South Bend, Ind. in 1912.
From childhood on, radio and sound communication fascinated him. At age 12, he joined a Boy Scout troop and was sent home with a radio to repair. This was the start of his lifelong passion for radio. Around his 13th birthday, he received his armature radio license and upon graduating from Central High School in 1924, began installing and repairing receivers.
His wife, Anne Snyder, whom he married in 1937, died Oct. 2, 2001.
He is survived by three daughters, Sally (Anthony) Efremoff, Canton, Ohio; Carol (James) Bieneman, Cassopolis and Kathy Rush, Kirkland, Wa. Also surviving are nine grandchildren: Anne Elizabeth Efremoff, Canton, Ohio; Cynthia (Jim) Efremoff Stowers, Sterling, Va.; Alan Efremoff, Charlotte, N.C.; Charles (Ann) Bieneman, Bloomfield Hills; Jane Bieneman, New York, N.Y.; Kathryn (Jack) Bieneman Romita, New York, N.Y.; Robert (Elisa) Irvine, Athena, Ore.; Annette (Paul) Irvine Swangard, Eugene, Ore.; and Jennifer Irvine, Maple Valley; Wa.; and eight great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by sister, Dorothea Kahn Jaffe.
Kahn served for many years on the boards of the Economics Club of Southwestern Michigan, Shoreline (Chemical) Bank, Pawating (Lakeland) Hospital. He was a member of the Amateur Radio Relay League, the First Class Operators Club, the Diamond Lake Yacht Club.
A memorial service is planned by Connelly Funeral Home, for Saturday, July 16, at the Diamond Cover Missionary Church, 22541 Diamond Cove Road, Cassopolis. Visitation at the church is from 2 to 4 p.m. with the service immediately following.
Contributions in memory of Albert Kahn may be made to Cass County Hospice, 310 Sherwood St. Decatur, MI 49045 or to the Michiana Amateur Radio Club, c/o Noel Kindt (W9EFL), 90888 Bluff Drive, Marcellus, MI, 49067.