University of Texas
Richard Newton Lane
February 6, 1919-November 22, 1998



Richard Newton Lane

Richard Newton Lane

Richard Newton Lane was born in Eagle Pass, Texas on February 6, 1919 to William Bartlett "Chink" and Virginia Pearl Gardner Lane. Virginia was born in Ft. Smith, AR. Richard was the first son, his younger brother was Louis Gardner Lane (b. December 25, 1923) also born in Eagle Pass. Louis became a much celebrated orchestra conductor, serving for many years as the assistant conductor under George Szell with the Cleveland Orchestra. He died in Cleveland, OH, on February 16, 2016 at the age of 92.

William Bartlett Lane was born in Austin, TX, on May 15, 1875. He was the representative for Hormel Foods in Mexico. In 1919, he was manager of L. De Bona Grocery Company, an importer of groceries and produce in Eagle Pass. His passport picture from that year is shown at right. He traveled extensively in Mexico as evidenced by the Consular Record below. Not surprising that his son, Richard, spoke fluent Spanish. William Bartlett died on October 28, 1952 in Austin.




There was a tradition in the Lane family to alternate the name of the oldest son in each generation between William Bartlett and Richard Newton. Therefore Richard's grandfather was also Richard Newton (b. Kentucky, 1828-1907) and was a physician in Eagle Pass. Richard followed this tradition and named his first son William Bartlett. At left we see Richard and his younger brother Louis.

Richard, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, graduated with a BA in 1940. At right, we see him that year with his parents, William and Virginia, and his brother Louis Gardner. A year later he earned a masters in physics. His thesis was entitled “A New Method of Amplitude Measurement.” The work was in the area of sonar and was supervised by Professor C. P. Boner. In 1942. His thesis work was done while working at the UT Defense Research Laboratory. Following graduation he took a job with RCA in Indianapolis. When Professor Boner moved to Cambridge, MA to work at the Harvard Underwater Sound Laboratory (HUSL), he invited Richard to assistant in the development of the prototype sonar sets to be installed into the U.S. Navy fleet in 1944. The Harvard laboratory was established by the U.S. Navy for research into sonar systems and acoustic torpedoes. Boner was associate director and recruited a number of Texas graduates to join him. After leaving the Harvard laboratory, After the war ended, Richard joined the acoustical division of Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in Camden, New Jersey. He later returned to Austin and became Head of the Acoustics Division of the UT Defense Research Laboratories. It was there he met Chester McKinney, Frank W. McBee Jr., and Jess Stanbrough. These would later be part of the formation in 1955 of their highly successful company Tracor. Harry S. Pollard, Austin attorney, would join the founders.


Richard’s brother, Louis, enlisted in the US Army on the 10th of December 1942. He had not completed college, however, later the University awarded him his degree. Louis spoke fluent German, so he served in the Judge Advocate General’s branch of the U. S. Army.

Richard married Estelle Elizabeth Speed on April 5, 1942. They had met while studying at UT. Estelle was born on April 29, 1921, in Sayre, OK to Oscar and Martha Hurt Speed,her sisters included of Carol and Patricia. Carol married Joseph Mifsud, a physics graduate student at UT. Estelle was involved with her sorority and was a member of the Glee Club. Richard and Estelle had four children, Martha Lane McLane, Laura Lane Dailey, William Bartlett Lane and Richard Newton Lane Jr. Estelle died March 22, 1980 at the age of 58. Richard later married Patricia “Pat” Speed Thomas, his sister-in-law. Patricia died November20, 2007.

Richard Lane died November 22, 1998.

Founding of Tracor

Tracor was founded in 1955 as Associated Consultants and Engineers. Tracor was the brainchild of physicist Richard N. Lane, its first president. He recruited Frank W. McBee, Dr. Chester McKinney, and Jess Stanbrough as its founders, and these four added an attorney friend, Harry Pollard. Early contracts included sales to Union Carbide and the United States Navy. The company's early focus on research and development soon expanded to the manufacture of instruments and components. “Actually,” said Richard N. Lane in 1970, “we had dreams of becoming the Arthur D. Little of the Southwest. I think now we have done better.” In 1960 the company was renamed Texas Research Associates and in 1962 merged with Textran Corporation to become Tracor. Lane served as President and Chairman from the beginning until 1971 when chose to devote more time to the Chairmanship. McBee was elevated to President.

The roots of the company can be traced back to July 1955, when four ambitious, intelligent, and highly creative associates, who were teaching and conducting extensive research in the area of acoustical research at the University of Texas, decided to transform their late-night moonlighting at the laboratory into a full-time business venture. The four young men included physicists Jess Stanbrough, Chester McKinney, and Richard Lane, and mechanical engineer Frank McBee. The partners approached Harry Polland, an attorney in Austin, to look after the legal aspects of their new firm, named Associated Consultants and Engineers, Inc. The new company's first contract, an industrial noise abatement project for Eastern State Petroleum & Chemical Company, was worth a total of $5,000. During the next two years, the firm garnered numerous small contracts and began to make a reputation for itself as a reliable and creative enterprise.

In 1957, after much discussion among the founding members of the firm, it was decided to change the name to Texas Research Associates, Inc. While the name change was intended to reflect the company's growing concentration on research and development in a wide variety of fields, the partners maintained their focus on acoustical research and sonar technology. That same year, the company received a grant of approximately $200,000 from the Union Carbide Corporation to design, develop, and manufacture a new liquid transistor. With this grant, the founders realized that their new enterprise was going to be a successful business venture. They immediately began to form a skeleton organization to take care of the financial and administrative aspects of the firm's growth. The company purchased its first computer and constructed a facility to house administrative offices and research laboratories. New and bigger contracts with the U.S. Navy began to arrive, mostly involving additional research in sonar technology. One of the new contracts involved a long-term program for the firm to evaluate the U.S. Navy's sonar capabilities and, based on the information gathered, to implement a plan for the design and development of sonar equipment and its use.

Richard Lane, in an address before the New York Financial Analysts, presented the objectives which guided the company.

—To seek new areas of technological advancement, looking particularly for breakthroughs along the frontiers of scientific knowledge;

—To grow both internally through new product development and through an active acquisition program;

—To build overall scientific and financial capabilities and add compatible product lines so increasingly larger and more profitable markets can penetrated;

—And, finally, to become a major scientifically oriented industrial company.

This philosophy fostered the growth of Tracor from 260 employees and $2 million in revenues in 1962 to more than 4,600 employees and sales of $83 million in 1969.

Information in this history of Tracor came from Wikipedia and from the book, Texas Giants: the new breed, published by The Texas Industrial Commission, Austin, Texas, 1971.


Richard Newton Lane Photo Album

Sigma Phi Epsilon, 1939 Cactus Yearbook, Richard Lane second row from top and third from left.
Phi Beta Kappa, 1940 Cactus Yearbook
Sigma Phi Epsilon, 1940 Cactus Yearbook, Richard Lane top row, second from left.
Alpha Delta Pi, 1940 Cactus Yearbook, Estelle Lane second row from top, third from left.
Patricia Speed, 1943 Cactus Yearbook, Fourth row, second from left.
Richard with James J. Moore filed for a patent on a Noise Exposure Meter on 1958. Patent was granted in 1964.
Exposure meter
US 3144089 A
This invention relates to a device for indicating accumulated exposure to signals of various types and refers more particularly to a device which may be termed a noise exposure meter.
Tracor, Inc. Austin honors founders.
Virginia Pearl Lane and son, Richard N. Lane
Richard and Estelle Lane’s children: Back: Martha and William “Bill”, Front: Laura and Richard (1953–79)
William Bartlett and Virginia Lane with Estelle and Richard Lane. ca. Christmas, 1952–1953
L to R: Estelle, Laura, Richard, Martha, Richard Jr. and Virginia Gardner Lane (mother of Richard.)
Tracor, Inc. Austin honors founders.
Richard Lane and his second wife, Patricia Speed Thomas. Patricia was Estelle’s sister. Estelle had tragically died at the age of 58. Photo 1997
Joe Mifsud, Louis G. Lane and unknown at Richard Lane’s memorial service. Joe had married Carol Speed, Estelle’s sister. Joe earned a PhD in physics from the University of Texas.
Oscar Speed, father of Estelle, Patricia and Carol, with Martha Lane McLane.
L to R: Cindy Lane, Richard, Estelle with parents, Larry and Laura Lane Dailey
Follow his retirement, Richard pursued his love of sailing
and photography.
Follow his retirement, Richard pursued his love of sailing
and photography.

L to R: Linda and Chester McKinney, Patricia Speed Lane. 1994, Richard Lane’s 75th birthday celebration.
Chester was Director of UT Applied Research Laboratory.

Patricia and Richard Lane, 1994, Richard’s 75 birthday celebration.
Richard Lane and Jack Trotter, 1972, Richard’s Retirement Party
Jack Trotter and Frank McBee, McBee was co-founder of Tracor, Trotter was an investor, 1972, Richard’s Retirement Party