Americo Ostrowski, laser drilling expert

November 10, 1992|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

An obituary on laser technology expert Americo "Fred" Ostrowski in Tuesday's editions of The Sun omitted in the listing of survivors a brother, Sigmund Ostrowski of Grafton, Vt.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Although Americo "Fred" Ostrowski could neither hear nor speak, he was not cut off from the world -- or even worlds beyond.

Mr. Ostrowski, a laser technology expert and a contributor to the Jupiter-bound Galileo spacecraft, died Sunday at Franklin Square Hospital Center of congestive heart failure. He was 51.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

A resident of Perry Hall, Mr. Ostrowski also organized a ministry for deaf children at the Greater Grace World Outreach church in Baltimore, where he taught sign language and helped build a shrine.

His contribution to the Galileo project was drilling a hole that measured 19.5 microns -- a hole so small that there were few men in the world who could perform the detailed work.

"He could drill holes in the microscopic realm better than anybody. He had unbelievable concentration ability, because he couldn't be distracted by noise," said his boss, Joe Dentremont of Lenox Laser in Phoenix. "He turned his deafness around . . . and God turned a curse into a blessing."

The hole that Mr. Ostrowski drilled -- which measured slightly more than 39 millionths (.000039) of an inch -- is critical to the spacecraft's ability to measure data.

Born in Cambridge, Mass., he was stricken with spinal meningitis at the age of 1 and lost his hearing, and never learned to speak. He became proficient at sign language and graduated from the Boston School for the Deaf in 1956.

At 17, he got a job on the assembly line at a shoe company in Randolph, Mass. He held the job for more than 20 years before the company went out of business, with Mr. Ostrowski the last worker to lose his job.

In 1983, because of the mechanical ability he developed on the assembly line, he got a job as a laser applications technologist with Lenox Laser, then located in Lenox, Mass. Four years later, he moved with the business to the Baltimore area.

At Greater Grace World Out reach, he was an assistant pastor to the deaf ministry, taught Bible classes to the children, and often took them bowling.

He taught sign language to interpreters at the ministry and also taught classes at the accompanying Maryland Bible College and Seminary.

His wife of 16 years, the former Joanne Patrick, said he was a master of mechanical things and would never throw away anything that had broken. "He could take anything apart and fix it. I never had to buy appliances," Mrs. Ostrowski said. "He even used to fix tape recorders, and he couldn't even hear them."

Mr. Ostrowski is also survived by four stepchildren, John Ostrowski of Boston, Ed Ostrowski of Baltimore, Lynne Lincoln of Perry Hall and Michelle Ostrowski of Baltimore; his parents, Sigmund and Mary Ostrowski of Randolph, Mass.; three sisters, Dolores Sawczuk of Wareham, Mass., Anna Quinn of Brentwood, N.H., and Mary Beth Nearen of Randolph; and seven grandchildren.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at Greater Grace World Outreach, 6025 Moravia Park Drive in Baltimore.

The family suggested donations to the Greater Grace World Outreach deaf ministry, in care of Pastor Bill Fortin, Frankford Plaza, 6025 Moravia Park Drive, Baltimore 21206.

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