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Larry Cervon Is Dead

He led the growth of a cart machine manufacturer in Maryland into an RF powerhouse in Quincy, Ill.

Larry Cervon, a native of Croatia who became one of the leading figures in U.S. and global broadcast equipment manufacturing, is dead. He was 86 and had pulmonary fibrosis, according to his son Larry Cervon Jr.

Lawrence J. Cervon died at his summer home in Laurel, N.Y. A former resident of Quincy, Ill. — a city that owes part of its reputation for RF manufacturing to his work — he was also a resident of Highland Beach, Fla., in later years.

A graduate of Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, he received a bachelor of science degree from the College of the City of New York and attended Fordham Law School. He worked in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War and learned about electronics. He joined RCA International in New York as a broadcast equipment sales trainee, then went to work for Westinghouse Electric International Co. as a product specialist.

There he met Parker Gates and in 1947 joined Gates Radio Co. as a sales rep. He became sales manager in 1952, and 14 years later succeeded Parker Gates as head of the Gates Division of Harris Intertype Corp.

During his tenure there, Gates introduced television transmitters; it also purchased the General Electric Broadcast Equipment Division in Syracuse, N.Y., and relocated it to Quincy, Ill. Gates Radio in that time became the second largest supplier of TV transmitters after RCA.

Cervon left Harris and worked in the 1970s for Microwave Associates; then in 1976 he became president of Broadcast Electronics Inc., a subsidiary of Filmways Inc. that made tape cartridge equipment based in Silver Spring, Md.

He relocated it to Quincy and hired many former employees of a closed Motorola plant. BE grew under his leadership, most notably as a major manufacturer of FM broadcast transmitters.

Cervon eventually paired with an investment group to purchase Broadcast Electronics. The company was sold in 1990, when he retired.

Company officials said Thursday the staff was mourning Cervon’s passing.

“Larry was a large presence in this industry. All of us who had the fortune to know him remember him with great fondness,” stated Vice President of RF Systems Tim Bealor. “He was a broadcast equipment guy. That was his life.”

Kim Winking, marketing services manager, also worked with Cervon. “He knew all the employees by name, and I think he was one that really cared about the employees and their happiness and welfare.”

Cervon was honored with an achievement award from the National Association of Broadcasters; last fall he was saluted by BE on the 30th anniversary of the company’s relocation to Quincy. He was active in that city’s civic circles as president of the board of trustees of St. Mary Hospital; member of the board of Quincy University; president of Quincy Industrial Association; and a member of the boards of the Illinois State Bank, Quincy YMCA and Saukee Area Council Boy Scouts of America.

His family includes his wife, Louise, whom he married in 1953; a daughter, Kathryn, of Washington; son Larry Jr.; daughter-in-law, Kathleen; grandchildren, Matthew and Madeleine of Wellesley, Mass.; and a sister, Catherine LaMarca of Jericho, N.Y.

Services were Thursday on Long Island; Cervon was to be buried at Our Lady of Ostrabrama Roman Catholic Church in Cutchogue, N.Y. A memorial service is planned later in Quincy.

Memorials can be made to the Quincy University Lawrence J. Cervon Scholarship Fund or the Simmons Fund for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

BE invited Cervon’s friends and colleagues to share anecdotal stories and condolences online.