SMTA Loses a Leader and Best Friend
It is with great sadness that we share with you that Rich Freiberger, Chief Operating Officer of ZF Array Technology in San Jose, CA, passed away on February 7th after a difficult and courageous battle with both lymphoma and Hepatitis C.
From 1995 until 2001 Rich served the SMTA on our Board of Directors. He initially served on the Planning Committee and from 1998 – 2001 he served as our Vice President of Technical Programs. During this time he oversaw the Academy program, EAE (Electronics Assembly Expo), Emerging Technologies, SMTA Philadelphia, SMTA Boston, and SMTA Dallas. He also served on the SMI/SMTA International technical committees for many years—overseeing the SMT and DFM sessions. Rich never failed to jump in and assist wherever needed—a course offering on SPC, a paper on DFM, a talk to a chapter, chairing a session. Rich also served on the Surface Mount Council, SMTA’s nominating committee and chaired our Certification Committee. Rich was very instrumental in assisting us with the re-formation of our Silicon Valley SMTA chapter. He was a past recipient of both SMTA’s Founders and Excellence in Leadership Awards.
We can think of no one who embodied what the SMTA is all about more than Rich Freiberger. He was actively involved in SMT since the early 1980’s, but not just “involved”-he was an active participant. He was one of the most knowledgeable people in our industry and he retained that status over many years. Through his active work in our industry, he contributed to the advancement of the technology. Rich didn’t just read and preach, he practiced the technology, and as some of his close friends would say, “Rich has solder paste under his fingernails-he builds boards, he puts together lines, he helps define the technology and the state-of-the-art.” That, in itself, would be enough, but Rich shared that knowledge freely and with open-mindedness, intelligence and insight. Through the roles he assumed in his career, and most importantly, through the various positions he held with the SMTA, many have learned a great deal from Rich.
Rich was a wonderful husband to his wife, Liza, and a most loving father to his daughters, Kristin and Ashley. He was always quick to share with others (in that booming and distinctive voice) how blessed he was with this wonderful family and how proud he was of each of them. We keep them all close in thought and prayer at this difficult time.
And on a personal note, Rich was a very dear and treasured friend of mine. He shared with me his diagnosis many months ago, but in typical Rich fashion, he did not want others to know. He continued to work every day until just recently. He fought a courageous battle and remained positive and upbeat. Earlier today someone shared with me, “grieve for a bit and then celebrate the wonderful man that Rich was and the life that he lived.” I think this is a message that Rich would have approved of. His extensive contributions to the industry and the SMTA, along with the many friendships he built will be an enduring legacy. I will always feel so proud to have been a friend of his.
-JoAnn Stromberg, SMTA Administrator
A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, February 27th at 3:00 pm at the Oak Hill Funeral Home, Chapel of the Oaks, 300 Curtner Avenue, San Jose, CA 95125, 408-297-2447. Request to join the tribute page set up by Rich's family on Facebook.