In Memoriam:
A Tribute to Dr. Joseph L. N. (Norm) Violette, 1932-2008

Dr. Joseph L. N. (Norm) Violette passed away on January 2, 2008 after a full and active life and noted and accomplished career. He was, in the end, surrounded by his wife of fifty years, Bette, seven children and eight grandchildren. Norm left behind a legacy of engineering excellence and achievement, inspired instruction and tremendous stories.
With a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and after a post-grad stint at RPI, he continued onto a successful career in the Air Force and as an independent consultant. His achievements were singular and far-reaching and facilitated with the unparalleled support of his wife.
He flew high and fast in F-102s in the late 1950s and flew perilously close to danger during the Vietnam War in 1968, providing supplies and ferrying soldiers in C-123s about the country during the Tet Offensive, garnering the Distinguished Flying Cross on two ocassions. He was checked out in C-47, T-33s, T-38s and several other aircraft. He achieved the rank of Lt. Colonel before retiring in 1977 to begin his independent engineering career.
Continuing his education, he earned a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State in 1971 and a Masters in Business Administration from Auburn University in 1972. He was a NARTE Certified EMC Engineer and gained the recognition from his peers in the IEEE EMC Society with receipt of the 2004 Richard R. Stoddart Award for Outstanding Performance. He was active in ANSI ASC C63™ committee work and contributed to numerous EMC Society Chapters across the US under the Society’s Distinguished Lecturer program.

Bette and Norm Violette are shown at a family gathering in 2006. The cake at the funeral reception honoring Norm Violette was decorated to show his love for solving electromagnetic equations.

One of Norm’s more notable accomplishments was designing the lightning protection system for the Statue of Liberty during the restoration of that grand sculpture in 1986. He continued to be fascinated by and loved the engineering of lightning protection systems, EMC, RF interference and the physical phenomena that make up the core of the understanding of our industry.
Norm’s favorite things were learning, flying and the people whom he knew and loved. Even to the end of his life, he continued to push himself to learn something each day, whether it was a refresher of his childhood catechism (in French) to reading tales of Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth or plunging into the complexities of quantum mechanics. Sports and the thrill of competition were innate. Mostly he competed with himself, pushing harder and constantly for self-improvement. He inspired the same in others and fostered many others in their careers.

Norm attended virtually every IEEE International Symposium on EMC held annually, including the 50th Anniversary Symposium in Honolulu, Hawaii in July 2007. He is shown visiting the exhibit hall with his wife Bette. Note the signature grin he was famous for worldwide.

Those who knew Norm and worked and worshipped with him knew him as a wonderful father, a devout practitioner of his faith, an excellent engineer and a quintessential humorist with quips that were never barbed. His love of God never interfered with his love of learning and he never doubted those things that were natural or supernatural, but was on a quest to understand more about both. In that way, he taught us to reason critically about the world and origins of things, but to hold onto the higher reasons and motives that are unseen. “Seek truth and answers,” defined his professional life, his faith and his nature.
He was interred with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on February 8, 2008.
The EMC Board of Directors extends its condolences to the Violette family and will miss one of its true contributors. EMC

The author of this article wishes to thank the family of Norm Violette for providing much of the material for this tribute. Special thanks are extended to Norm’s son, Mike Violette, who contributed the photos and details of his father’s illustrious career. For more information on the life of Dr. Joseph L. N. (Norm) Violette, please visit

If you would like to contact the IEEE Webmaster
© Copyright 2008, IEEE. Terms & Conditions. Privacy & Security

return to contents
IEEE logo