News from 1959: Death of Jack Binns

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Mark Baber

Staff member
The New York Times, 9 December 1959

Honorary Head of Hazeltine Electronics was Hero of 1909 Rescue at Sea
John Robinson Binns of 220 Central Park South, honorary board chairman of the Hazeltine Corporation, electronics research and engineering company in Little Neck, Queens, died yesterday in Mount Sinai Hospital. He was 75 years old.

Mr. Binns, a pioneer in the field of electronics, was widely known as Jack Binns. As a ship's wireless operator in 1909, he won renown as the sender of the first distress signal by radio that resulted in a rescue at sea.

On Jan. 23 the White Star liner Republic, carrying 1,600 passengers, collided in a fog off Nantucket with the Italian ship Florida, which had 2,000 passengers. Mr. Binns, the Republic's wireless operator, sent out a C Q D signal (later changed to S O S) that was picked up by the Nantucket wireless station.

His action, taken while his small operator's shack was rapidly filling with water, was a major factor in the rescue of all but six aboard both vessels, although the Republic sank.

Mr. Binns worked for Marconi Wireless until 1912, when he joined the staff of The New York American as a reporter. After World War I, in which he served with a Canadian aviation unit, he was named radio and aviation editor of The New York Tribune.

He became associated with Hazeltine at its formation in 1924 to develop and license radio patents. Named treasurer in 1926 and a director the next year, Mr. Binns was elected to a vice presidency in 1935. In 1942 he became president of the company and in 1952, chairman. The post of honorary chairman was created for him in 1957.

At his death Mr. Binns was chairman of the awards committee of the Society of the Silurians, a newspaper men's group. He also belonged to the; New York and Chicago Athletic Clubs, the Adventurers, the Rockefeller Luncheon Club, the Society of Naval Engineers, the Institute of Radio Engineers and other groups associated with the electronics field.

He leaves his wife, Mrs. Alice MacNiff Binns, and two daughters, Mrs. Howard Fraser and Mrs. Paul Utermohlen.

A funeral service will he held tomorrow at 8 P. M. at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Church, Madison Avenue and Eighty-first Street.

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