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QUESTAR | NEWS AND DEVELOPMENTS

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    Red ball (924 bytes) 24 July 2001 Questar at the Annual World Series of Birding event of the New Jersey Audubon Society.

    Red ball (924 bytes) 16 July 2001 Questar Corporation Acquired.

      23 January 2005 will be remembered as being among the saddest days for Questar and its fans

    Red ball (924 bytes) 23 January 2005 The Passing of Douglas Maitland Knight.

    Red ball (924 bytes) 23 January 2005 The Passing of A Questar Favorite - Johnny Carson.


24 July 2001: Birds of a Feather

    At the nineteenth Annual World Series of Birding event held by the New Jersey Audubon Society at the Cape May Bird Observatory, the Questar team (the "Questar Roadrunners") finished an awesome fourth out of sixty eight (68) teams. Identifying two hundred four (204) species of birds during the twenty four hour marathon birding identification, the Roadrunners scouted the entire state of New Jersey using the Questar Birder. Team Captain Jeff Payne, joined by his wife Retta and team members Alan Peterson and Neal Cantell (who flew in from Ohio as designated driver), exemplify "what an experienced eye can see with the incredible resolution and performance of the Questar Birder".

    The Roadrunners are by occupation Veterinarians. They close their clinic for a week to scout the variety of birds that can be sited in New Jersey and especially in Cape May during migration. Even though not from the area the Roadrunners utilized their skill and determination to maintain their standing with competitors including Carl Zeiss, Swarovsky, Nikon, and Swift.

    The sport and art of bird watching is channeled into raising money for nature conservancy. Funds are provided by sponsors to aid in this event. Amassing over $600,000 to help preserve our nations habitats for wildlife, 2002 was a record year. It is fulfilling and rewarding to see people from all over the country, from ages ten to ninety, working cooperatively and competitively to preserve one of nature's precious gifts.

    The Questar team looks forward to the year 2003 activities, and we invite your questions and comments about how you can become involved.

16 July 2001: Questar Corporation Acquired

    Questar Corporation, the optical innovators founded in 1950 by Lawrence Braymer, has been acquired by Donald J. Bandurick, President and CEO of the National Engineering and Manufacturing Company. This was announced on 16 July 2001 by Questar President, Earlene J. Austin. NEMCO, located in Feasterville, Pennsylvania, manufactures metal parts and components which are synergistically compatible with Questar products. Much of Questar's technology and customer base already overlaps with Nemco's.

    Douglas M. Knight, Sr., who first joined Questar in 1975, and later operated as President and then as Chairman will remain as Senior Consultant Research and Development.

    Mr. Bandurick, Questar's new Chairman and CEO, believes that as the operating head of an advanced aerospace and power generator engineering and manufacturing design firm, he can augment Questar's production while at the same time enhance Questar's presence in the consumer and industrial fields.

    At the settlement table Mr. Bandurick said, "The continuation of Questar, which has been manufacturing and distributing to the world for over fifty years the 'finest small telescope ever made' in addition to advanced industrial and academic research instruments, now stands poised to expand its technology and research to its worldwide customer base."

23 January 2005: The Passing of Douglas Maitland Knight

    Douglas Maitland Knight, a former president of Duke University and employee and later President and owner of the Questar Corporation died Sunday 23 January 2005 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, from complications related to pneumonia. He was 83 years old.

    Dr. Knight was born June 8, 1921 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His father passed away when he was only five years old and while under his mother's care, they moved several times a year which resulted in his attending thirteen different elementary schools, and he skipped through several grades. At 14, he enrolled in Phillips Exeter Academy, graduating a year later. He attended Yale University where he received three degrees in English: his A.B. in 1942, the M.A. in 1944, and the Ph.D. in 1946. He taught 18th century literature at Yale for several years before at age thirty-two years he became president of Lawrence College (now Lawrence University) in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1953 - the youngest president in Lawrence's history.

    Left: Dr. Douglas M. Knight, Presidential Portrait at Lawrence University painted by Thomas Dietrich, Artist-in-Residence at Lawrence University from 1944 to 1974, gained fame in Wisconsin and beyond for his watercolors of Fox Valley and Door County landscapes, bridges, factories, and people. More than 1,000 of his paintings are in public and private collections throughout the United States.

    Ten years later Dr. Knight became Duke University's fifth president, holding the post from 1963-1969. n his 1963 inaugural address, Knight imagined Duke's future "may men say of us in years to come that, every man according to his talent, we made it a place of wit, of wisdom, of high civilization and great service." In his years as president of Duke, Dr. Knight oversaw the initial development of what is now known as the Central Campus, this was meant to integrate what were then two separate campuses for men and women. He presided over a major expansion of Perkins Library and established a business school and several joint degree and interdisciplinary programs. Mr. Knight was a force in the establishment the Duke Art Museum, which provided a home for a collection of medieval artworks donated to the university by the widow of Ernest Brunner - even though some at the University questioned whether or not this was a sound fiscal decision. Dr. Knight decided to resign from Duke after student protests and the February 1969 takeover of the Allen Building, the university's main administrative building which also houses the president's office. This protest originated with students who were calling for among other things, a black cultural center and a curriculum in African-American studies. Although the students were persuaded to leave the building, in the ensuing chaos police released tear gas on the main campus quadrangle. At one point demonstrating students also occupied the President's residence where Dr. Knight and his wife lived. Throughout this event Dr. Knight remained open, kind and forgiving, but it became obvious to many that he was also profoundly hurt by this episode.

    Dr. Knight next entered the corporate world becoming vice president of educational development for the RCA Corporation, and by 1971 he became president of RCA Iran. Since its founding by Lawrence Braymer in 1954 the Questar Corporation based in New Hope, Pennsylvania became known around the world as a well regarded a maker of precision optical telescopes. After Mr. Braymer's death in 1965 his widow Marguerite (Peg) Braymer became sole owner. In 1976 Dr. Knight met Marguerite Braymer at a social gathering in Bucks County. As Questar had always been interested in the educational market, Mrs. Braymer offered and Dr. Knight accepted the offer to became Director of Questar Corporation. The arrival of Dr. Knight at Questar brought about some pronounced changes culminating in 1977 with the departure Vice President John Schneck (given a good measure of credit for his part the development of the Questar 7) and Mr. Little the sales manager. Schneck and Little would go on to found Optical Techniques, Inc. a competing firm located nearby in Newtown, Pennsylvania. With the passing of Mrs. Braymer, Dr. Knight became the sole owner of Questar.

    Dr. Knight's tenure saw the development of the Questar Long Distance Micrscopes, an entirely new and successful product line much used in research and manufacturing process quality control. The LDM would win for Questar a number of industrial achievement awards. Questar had a good technical staff but had been slow to adapt to changes such as in the areas of computerization and marketing, and so Dr. Knight prepared Questar to enter the 21st century by hiring Ms. Earlene Austin. Ms. Austin was only the second president to come to Questar (including Dr. Knight) with good experience in corporate America. Over his years at Questar Dr. Knight even appeared in some Questar literature including on the cover of the "Wide Sky 7" model telescope brochure. Dr. Knight sold the Questar company in July 2001 although he remained in the area and occasionally consulted for the company.

    Even while he was with Questar Dr. Knight's love of teaching never waned, and he found a way to teach courses in literature through his affiliation with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Former Duke President Nan Keohane encouraged Dr. Knight to return to become a visible presence at Duke University and in recent years Dr. Knight had once again become active in Duke affairs. In 2002 Dr. Knight participated in the inauguration ceremony of present Duke President Richard H. Brodhead. Duke President Brodhead called Dr. Knight "a man of great wisdom and generosity", and he went on to note that "Duke emerged from the tumultuous years during which he served as president as a stronger institution, and the foundation Doug Knight laid enabled the university to rise in the ranks of the nations leading universities today".

    Dr. Knight received 12 honorary degrees from colleges and universities. His nature was essentially optimistic, and compassionate and this comes through in his poetry. Dr. Knight's authored more than ten books ranging from scholarly works to poetry and personal recollections including assessments of his Duke years in "Street of Dreams," published in 1989, and his 2003 memoir, "The Dancer and the Dance."

    "He was a devoted friend, we just loved him," said Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans, the grandniece of James B. Duke, the university's founder. "It's just phenomenal how he came back into the fold of Duke. I've never seen anybody who rebounded that way. It was because he realized there was a lot of love here for him, and they understood what a difficult time it was."

    Dr. Knight is survived by his wife of sixty years, Grace Nichols, and by four sons Christopher Knight of Glencoe, Ill., Douglas Knight Jr. of Portland, Maine, Thomas Knight of Vancouver, British Columbia, and Stephen Knight of Stockton, N.J. Dr. Knight also had eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. The family requests donations be made to a scholarship fund of their choice.

23 January 2005: The Passing of A Questar Favorite - Johnny Carson

    TV icon Johnny Carson passed away early on the morning of Sunday 23 January 2005. A long time smoker, Mr. Carson died at 6:50 AM PST at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, of respiratory arrest after grappling with emphysema for years. He was 79 years young.

    Working in the entertainment field since 1950 with his start hosting a morning show in Omaha, Johnny became best known for his unprecedented success in late night television as host of the "Tonight Show" from October 1962. He exhibited a degree of class and dignity that is more and more rare in the entertainment industry, and was often at his best when he was brunt of the joke or during a pregnant pause in a tanking monologue. His wit could be insightful and indicting, but never cruel. He worked to make every guest feel at home on his set and present themselves in a good light. On the evening of 22 May 1992 audiences heard "Heeeeeeeere's Johnny" from Johnny's long time co-host Ed McMahon for the last time and Johnny Carson retired. Just as quickly he slipped into retirement away from the public limelight. Later in 1992 Mr. Carson was awarded the "Presidential Medal of Freedom", our nation's highest civilian honor, with President Bush mentioning "with decency and style he's made America laugh and think." In 1993 he was celebrated by the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors for career achievement. There is very little that we can add about his unprecedented show business successes that has not already been said or shown on the numerous television segments that are following his death. But there were other interesting aspects to this man.

    His home was on Wildlife Road in the Point Dume area of Malibu, California. He played tennis at his home's beautifully laid out Malibu pavilion, and he was a noted visitor at events including Wimbelton. Mr. Carson kept his cards close this his vest so to speak, not simply referring to his close knit poker playing friends but to his private life as a whole. His interests included travel, learning a bit of this or that language including some Swahili. His travel to the Serengeti region of Africa led him to name his 130 foot long motor yacht "Serengeti".

    But beyond the loss of talent and class which he demonstrated we also feel the loss of a fellow amateur astronomer. The news media has made little or no mention of what good Mr. Carson did for the hobby and science of astronomy. He came to the hobby as most of us did over time working his way up through several telescopes. Among these was by 1963 a Unitron 114 60mm achromatic refractor with the UNIHEX option (an identical telescope is displayed at Company Seven's museum collection) whose fondness he shared with visitors. Mr. Carson is shown with his Unitron in a TV GUIDE Magazine article hosted about him in our on line Library archives. In June 1967 he acquired a new Questar Standard 3-½ telescope S/N 7-QTZ-29xx; the serial number indicates the telescope incorporates an upgrade Quartz primary mirror instead of the standard Pyrex substrate. A mid-production Questar identical to Johnny's is also displayed at Company Seven's museum collection - who's following who? In spite of his closely guarded private life, Johnny brought his Questar to onto The Tonight Show, and spoke about it and his observations. His Questar 3-½ was a stepping stone to other telescopes including by 1979 an equatorially fork mounted Celestron 14 Schmidt-Cassegrain. Photos have circulated showing a smiling Mr. Carson with his Unitron, or with his Questar, and some with his C-14 telescope. While Mr. Carson was the first to poke fun on the matter of his three divorces (the fourth was the charm), we at Company Seven used to tease wondering which of his wives might have ended up with which telescope - he retained them all by the way.

    His interest in astronomy led to associations with a number of notable persons including the late astronomer Carl Sagan. Through visits to the Tonight Show his guests became better known to the American public, and the expression "billions and billions" attributed to Carl Sagan was in fact originated in a comic moment by Mr. Carson - to this day this expression remains associated with Carl Sagan to many who hear it. These guest visits on the Tonight Show helped to promote the amateur end of the hobby as well with guests including John Dobson, developer of the economical and highly popular variety of reflecting telescopes. The science fiction classic "Lucifer's Hammer" written by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle revolves about the approach and catastrophic impact of a comet onto Earth. This best seller includes a brilliant early chapter written from Mr. Carson's point of view as he interviews the two astronomers who discovered the approaching comet, and he figures out on the fly how to guide them into making their esoteric topic fascinating to the masses in TV land. Even after retirement Mr. Carson might contact an astronomer or pay a visit to an observatory, including enjoying an observing opportunity with Robert Jastrow on the 60 inch telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory and tour of the facility.

    So Mr. Carson in his own subtle way helped to increase the public's knowledge and interest in science through astronomy. A minor planet orbiting within our solar system is named Asteroid 3252 Johnny; the number orders it in an astronomical catalogue of orbits of such objects (now well over 8,000), while the name honors Mr. Carson. While his interest in the hobby remained with him to his death, our fond memories of Mr. Carson will long survive him.


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