Farewell Gary Altunian

It is with profound sadness that I report the passing of Gary Altunian, a colleague and friend of many years. It looked as though he had won his long battle with cancer a few years ago, only to have it recently return with a vengeance. He finally succumbed on March 15, 2011, at the age of 59.

I first met Gary in the early 1990s when he was National Training Manager for Yamaha Electronics. I was just beginning my career as a journalist in consumer electronics (I had previously covered pro audio), and he helped me with my coverage of Yamaha CE products. We became friends and then colleagues when he left Yamaha in 2003 to pursue his own career as a freelance audio journalist. He was an excellent and conscientious writer, and I hired him whenever I could to contribute to whatever magazine or website I was working on at the time.

I was particularly impressed that Gary went to the trouble of building false walls in his home studio, which allowed him to install and review in-wall speakers without damaging the room itself. That's rare dedication, which led many editors to assign him such reviews. Of course, his excellent ears and writing skills didn't hurt, either!

The most memorable assignment I gave him was to help cover the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show for UAV. It was his twentieth CES (not counting the summer show that used to be held in Chicago each June), and he provided superb coverage with some great color-commentary posts as well as hard news about audio products. My favorite was "My Friend Bob" about stopping for lunch at Bob's Big Boy in Victorville, CA, on his way to Vegas.

I was also impressed by Gary's insatiable thirst for knowledge. Even though he was primarily an audio guy, he took the 3-day THX video-training course, which required him to complete eight TV calibrations after the course itself was finished. Twice, he drove all the way from Oceanside (near San Diego) to Burbank—a 2-hour trip each way—to perform these calibrations at our testing lab, where we had plenty of TVs to work on. I was happy to help him in this task, after which we enjoyed a good meal together.

Gary was always upbeat and positive, even in the face of a devastating disease. He always had a smile on his lips and a joke at the ready, and I valued our friendship greatly. He deserved far better than the hand he was dealt, and I shall miss him terribly.

I invite and encourage anyone who knew Gary to post a comment here in tribute to his memory.