“Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can’t be sure…”

                                                                        - Franz Kafka, The Stranger


Prophetic words from one of the 20th century’s most controversial writers came almost immediately to mind when the news that my good friend and colleague, Fred Specht, had passed away. Fred was an expert in the field of induction heating, and his loss is not only a personal tragedy for those of us who knew and loved him, but it leaves a huge void in the field of practical heat treatment.

Fred was one of those unsung heroes, a person who rolled up his sleeves, put his ego aside and dove in to solve any problem he was confronted with. He was a true expert in induction heat treatment – his passion and life’s work. His contributions to ASM International, American Foundry Society, Industrial Heating and many other organizations are countless memorials to his knowledge and expertise. This, combined with an indomitable spirit, a can-do attitude and a willingness to share his hard-earned expertise with anyone who asked is an endearing legacy. Fred was the go-to guy for practical solutions to all types of induction heat-treating problems. We collaborated on many projects, especially where I could add my metallurgical expertise to his incredible knowledge base.

And gone is one of my true friends. Fred was a “Chicago boy,” one of only a handful of us left who grew up on the streets of Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s where we learned many of our life lessons, instilling us with passion to care about the world we lived in combined with the desire to share all that we know with anyone in need.

I thought it only fitting to share with you an e-mail message from the company that Fred was working with when he passed. (Note: The plaque referred to in the e-mail is shown in Figure 1). His contributions to our industry will last a lifetime.

“Mr. Herring:

I thought you would appreciate the plaque we have hung at our heat-treat facility in Norfolk. Although we only worked with Fred a few months and literally days in the plant, he made a lasting impression on us. I found his enthusiasm for teaching was simply awesome. On the day he suffered the heart attack in Norfolk, my team told me he was talking to kids from community college that came to the facility that morning. He told each kid that it is not about your education, it is about your desire to learn and that you keep that desire going. He will be missed.  

Thank you for introducing us."


Fred, may God grant you eternal peace!

Your friend, Dan