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Karin Schonthal Passes Away

February 2, 2012     7,571 views    

Karin E. Schonthal (nee Haehle), wife of the late Ernst Schonthal passed away on February 2, 2012 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 69.  Both worked at The Modal Shop and at Bruel & Kjaer before that.


In the early hours of February 2nd, our community lost the beloved Karin Schonthal. Karin was always with friends and family at her side in her short and swift battle against pancreatic cancer. Spending December and January at her home in Cincinnati, Ohio, she kept her dry wit and biting sense of humor. A visit from her nieces, Ines and Heike, who reside in Germany, was a welcomed respite from her battle in her final week. Karin reminisced about her home town of Freiberg outside Dresden, Germany and told family stories. In accordance with Karin’s wishes, her remains were cremated and will be transported to Denmark to be interred with her late husband, Ernst Schonthal, in a family burial plot.


With a career in the measurement and metrology field spanning over 45 years, many have been touched by the tenacious helpfulness that exemplified Karin Schonthal. Karin was always in passionate pursuit of filling the needs of the customer. Efficiency, organization and a little extra effort are all hallmarks of what Karin both delivered and expected. Karin was one of those precious few who made everyone around her even better.


Karin was the widow of the late Ernst Schonthal (2 May 1936 – 19 Jan 2001) who was also a pillar of the measurement and metrology industry. Ernie and Karin both worked at Bruel&Kjaer (B&K) of Naerum, Denmark for over 40 and 20 years (respectively), followed by their joining PCB Piezotronics of Buffalo, New York in 1996. They finally settled in Cincinnati, Ohio at The Modal Shop in 1999.


Ernie started the beginning of the 1950’s as an apprentice with B&K and had his first opportunity representing them in the US as a service man in the late 50’s through their Cleveland office. He returned to Denmark where he worked in B&K’s service department and traveled in Eastern Europe; eventually he resumed working in the Cleveland office doing sales work throughout the mid-west.


In 1967, while working from the Denmark office, he visited Freiberg, a small town near Dresden. Karin was working there for the company Industrie Elektronik that represented B&K and it was there that they met and their relationship flourished.


From left: Karin, Krause (Service Engineer at Industrie Elektronik), Jorgen Braasch, Traudel Tempel (wife of owner of Industrie Elektronik).  At house of Otto and Traudel Tempel circa 1970.  (Courtesy of Jorgen Braasch)


They married, and Karin moved to Denmark where she joined Ernie at B&K and worked as an accountant. During this time, Ernie created the first general calibration system for microphones and accelerometers to be distributed to calibration centers around the world. Ernie, however, had gotten a taste for America and when a new B&K headquarters was established in Marlborough, Massachusetts in 1980 he wanted to work from there. He and Karin moved to the US where they were to remain for the rest of their lives. From Marlborough, Ernie sold many calibration systems and other instruments while Karin took good care of the accounting department. After B&K was sold in 1992, the headquarters moved to Atlanta in 1993 and Karin and Ernie followed.


In 1996, Ernie and Karin Schonthal joined the PCB Piezotronics team providing their professional and technical expertise as PCB grew deeper product involvement into the acoustics market. Ernie worked with PCB’s customers helping them to further understand and promote calibration systems for the sound and vibration industry. Karin, a customer service rep, had an enthusiastic personality and a passion to continuously exceed our customers’ expectations delivering PCB’s vision of, “Total Customer Satisfaction.”


In 1999, Ernie and Karin moved to Cincinnati to join The Modal Shop. Their application and system level knowledge made the team a natural fit for the growing application support needed at TMS. Active internationally and at the standards committee level, Ernie continued supporting the metrology market and the growth of calibration systems for over two years until his passing in early 2001. Karin maintained both inside and outside customer contact in her role as production coordinator. She was instrumental to customers through service quotations and delivery scheduling, as well as being a trusted and integral link to the TMS vendor supply chain. Karin was tireless in her quest to meet customer needs regardless of how “impossible” the request seemed at first. It was this tenacity and “can-do” spirit that so many customers and vendors remember about Karin.


Clearly, Karin has helped serve the sound and vibration industry, touching so many in the process. Her memory will not soon be forgotten. If you should like to make a donation in Karin’s memory, she asked that you be directed to her beloved Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra or to the American Cancer Society:


Thanks to The Modal Shop for providing the text above and Jorgen Braasch, an old friend of Karin and Ernst for the picture.