Obituary: Edward Orin Ansell

Edward Orin Ansell

Grandfather, patent attorney, teacher

Longtime Claremont resident Edward Orin Ansell died Wednesday, June 30 at Mt. San Antonio Gardens.

Born to Hyman and Mollie Ansell on March 29, 1926 in Superior, Wisconsin, he received all his schooling there, including his first two years at the University of Wisconsin, Superior (then Superior State Teachers College). Ed then transferred to the University of Wisconsin in Madison to earn a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. While there he taught himself to play the saxophone so he could play with the band.

His earliest job was working in his father’s grocery store. But he soon switched to take advantage of his hobby, amateur radio. He earned a commercial radiotelephone operator permit, which led to several years as a radio operator at the Lake Superior Coastal Harbor Station in Duluth, Minnesota. His waterfront pass was first issued in 1944 by the captain of the Port of  Duluth.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin he moved on to Buffalo, New York (he said it was warmer there) as an employee of the Federal Communications Commission.

After three years he transferred to the FCC offices in Washington, D.C. so he could attend law school at night. While at The George Washington Law School he was active in Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity, as an extra in several plays, and in his senior year he became president of the student body.

Upon graduation, Mr. Ansell passed the patent and District of Columbia bar exams and moved to Princeton, New Jersey, and the patent department of RCA. While in Princeton he attended a continuing education of the bar class in New York City, where he ran into Walter, a law school friend. Walter invited him to a picnic and even provided a date! She turned out to be Hanne Baer. They met in June and were married in December of 1956.

Looking for more of a challenge, he decided to accept an offer to be the general manager of a small research firm that had been founded by a number of recognized professors at Princeton. His daughter, Deborah Herman (David) was born in Princeton, in the same hospital where his granddaughters Annie and Emily Herman would be born many years later.

Mr. Ansell was just getting involved when a former law school roommate received a promotion and transfer and asked him to come to Southern California to manage the patent department of the growing aerospace firm, Aerojet General. That brought the family to Claremont, where son William was born. He held that job for 24 years, moving through the ranks to corporate patent counsel and corporate secretary.

He then was recruited by the California Institute of Technology and served as the director of patents and licensing for both CalTech and its Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the next 10 years.
After he retired from CalTech, he established a law office in Claremont, specializing in trademarks, patents and technology transfer. Hanne became his legal assistant. He finally retired at age 85.

His long career included membership on the advisory board of the Bureau of National Affairs. For several years he served as an adjunct professor at the University of La Verne Law School. He also authored numerous articles on technology transfer.

He was honored with a listing in Who’s Who in American Law and in Finance and Industry, and The George Washington University awarded him its 1979 Alumni Service Award.

In 2003 the couple decided to move to Mt. San Antonio Gardens, where both became very active members of the community. He chaired the Saturday night movie committee for many years and then helped to introduce CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) to the Gardens. He conducted an amateur radio program at the Gardens and joined several amateur radio groups in Claremont and surrounding communities.

Mr. Ansell is also survived by his sister Phyllis Harris (Howard) of Golden Valley, Minnesota; and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his parents, and brother and sister-in-law, Sherman and Lois Ansell.

A funeral was held July 5 at Mt. Sinai Hollywood Hills.

Donations in memory of Edward O. Ansell can be sent to the Laura and Bill Fuller Music Education Scholarship, University of Wisconsin-Superior Foundation, at, or to P.O. Box 2000, Superior, WI 54880; or the Law School Dean’s Fund, The George Washington University Law School Office of Development and Alumni Relations at, or to 2000 H St. NW, Washington D.C. 20052.


Share This