[FRC Blog] Lou Altman

Posted on the FRC Blog, 7/5/17: https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/blog/2017-lou-altman

Lou Altman

Written by Frank Merrick, 2017 JUL 05.


It’s with a heavy heart I announce that Lou Altman, *FIRST *Robotics Competition Championship Pit Announcer since 2009, passed away a few days ago.

Lou had spent some time battling cancer. At *FIRST *Championship Houston, he told me he had finished a round of radiation therapy just a few days before, but was determined to continue volunteering for FIRST, which he loved. He loved it so much that he was one of the folks that volunteered at both the Houston and St Louis events this year, investing his own money to do so, just as others had. More consequentially, he invested his own time, which in his case was a very precious commodity.

Lou became involved in *FIRST *when his daughter Maddie entered high school in 2009 and joined FRC Team 131, CHAOS, from Manchester, NH. As well as volunteering for FIRST, Lou was a sponsor of CHAOS through his company, GlobaFone. Maddie left the team in 2012 upon graduation, but Lou stuck with FIRST, because the program meant so much to him.

Lou’s voice was unmistakable, and he had an approach to pit announcements all his own. He had a special concern for safety and regularly reminded team members to walk in the pits with his unforgettable, and booming, “We walk in the pits!” announcements. I know some people took exception to Lou’s approach, and thought there were alternatives that might have been more effective. I understand this. But a few FRC team members, in St Louis, organized a group run past Lou’s station as a prank. Whether this was truly mean-spirited or not, or had some ultimately positive intent or not, it was certainly at Lou’s expense and an attempt to embarrass him. I think there’s a potential lesson in this. If you are considering an action that could be interpreted as mean-spirited, think twice. Your target may be dealing with issues you know nothing about, and you never know when someone else’s “last” is. Lou’s last-ever chance as Championship Pit Announcer was marred by a dumb prank.

We’ll miss you, Lou. You genuinely cared, and you were a true friend of FIRST. Those are the qualities, along with your unique voice, we’ll always remember.


I heard about this a few days ago. Truly sad news. :frowning: