Lehigh Valley, PA-based Lutron Electronics Co., Inc., announced the October 21 passing of John McKiernan, vice chairman of Lutron since 1990.
A 40-year Lutron veteran, John was 79 years old and played a critical role in the company as well as in the community.
“John put Lutron on the map. In doing so, John created a new industry – the electronic lighting control industry – which has created a new element in the economy both in America and in the rest of the world,” said Joel Spira, Lutron founder, chairman, and director of Research. “The entire Lutron family is saddened by the loss of someone who was so vital to the history of the company.”
John, whom many knew as ‘Mac,’ joined the company as assistant to the president not long after its founding in 1961. He helped Lutron expand to North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Australia. He was promoted to vice president in 1974.
“John McKiernan in many ways was the public face of Lutron in our community,” said The Honorable Charlie Dent, U.S. House of Representatives, (R-PA 15th District). “Mac was a kind and compassionate leader who used his wonderful attributes to support so many people and organizations across the Lehigh Valley and beyond. Rest in peace, dear friend.”
John is an Air Force veteran and served during the Korean War. While in the Air Force, he was recognized as a champion swimmer and taught electronics.
Throughout his years at Lutron, John held numerous, high-profile leadership positions, including Chairman and Executive Committee member of the Electrification Leadership Council; an Executive Committee member of the Board of the National Lighting Bureau; a member of the Pennsylvania Governor’s International Task Force Committee; and Chairman, Executive Committee member, and Board of Governors member of the American Lighting Association (ALA).
John’s influential career included being named a life member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and receiving the “Manufacturer of the Year” Award from the National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA). He was also given the “Pillar of the Year” Award from the American Lighting Association.
In September of 2013, John was inducted into the American Lighting Association “Lighting Hall of Fame.” In his acceptance speech, he said, “I will accept this award not only for myself, but for everyone else who helped me along the way. The opportunity to work at Lutron was immense — the chance to build a new product category and work with such wonderful, talented people is a privilege.”
John touched the lives of many people in the industry, and in the Lehigh Valley, with his commitment to numerous organizations, including his role as former Chairman of the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk, and as a Garden Gala committee member at the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network. In 2013, John was recognized by Good Shepherd with the Raker Memorial Award, the highest honor awarded to the organization’s friends and donors.
“John McKiernan was a classic gentleman leader in his industry and in our community,” said The Reverend Daniel G. Gambet, OSFS, president emeritus, DeSales University. “Those privileged to call him a friend will always remember his ready smile and wit, his graciousness, his generosity, and most of all, his integrity.”
“John McKiernan was a very special and unique man. He was seen as a highly respected leader in the lighting industry and was everyone’s good friend,” said Dick Upton, president/CEO of the American Lighting Association. “In addition to his significant contribution to Lutron Electronics’ remarkable growth and reputation for quality, he was seen as an industry visionary.”
“John was a special man. He was the only person I knew who not only didn’t judge people, but also went out of his way to make people feel a part of what they had helped to build even after they retired,” said Richard Cooper, former president of Cooper Electric and dear friend for 50 years.
John was dedicated to his wonderful, close-knit family and also found time to be an avid golfer. He is survived by his three children, Debbie Stevens of Downingtown, PA, Marcia Kennet and John E. McKiernan, both of Macungie, PA; his dear friend and companion, Patricia Panzarella; two brothers, Brian and Brad; two sisters, Judy Wilkens and Ruth Schroeder; nine grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.