The lighting industry has lost another of its distinguished leaders. William F. Blitzer died on Jan. 21, 2012. He was 87.

Mr. Blitzer received a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Master of Arts in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and served in the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II. In 1949, he joined the family business, lighting company Lightolier, founded by his grandfather Bernhard Blitzer. The junior Blitzer started in Lightolier's engineering department, went on to head the company's design and marketing efforts, and eventually was named President of Lightolier in 1972.

Under his leadership, Lightolier became synonymous with architectural lighting. He favored clean modern designs for decorative fixtures, introduced tracklighting, helped to pioneer efficient fluorescent lighting and built recessed downlighting, which would become one of the company's mainstays economically. Mr. Blitzer was dedicated to excellence in product design and to clear and well-illustrated product literature.

A mentor to many in the lighting community, both on the design and manufacturing side of the business, Blitzer was also engaged in a wide range of community initiatives, particularly on the subject of education. He was a long-time supporter of The Bank Street College of Education, where he also served as a Life Trustee. At various times he was also active with the Regional Plan Association and the Lighting Research Center.

A Fellow of the Illuminating Engineering Society and a member of the Lighting Hall of fame by the American Lighting Association, Blitzer was also included as a “Living Legend” in Architectural Lighting's 2002 Hall of Fame class.