enry Fischbach, co-founder, Charter Member, and Honorary Member of the American Translators Association (ATA) and the last surviving signatory of its Articles of Incorporation, passed away on September 25, 2008.
Born in Vienna, Austria, Henry Fischbach moved to the U.S. with his family at the age of 7, only to return to Europe a few years later. He attended French Lycée in Belgium and, upon moving back to the U.S., earned a degree in Comparative Linguistics and Pre-med Studies from Columbia University. He was involved with scientific and technical translation for over 50 years, including several years with the U.S. Government in its overseas news operations (Foreign Broadcast Control Editor in New York, Assistant Director of News and Feature Service in Italy and Austria under the Department of State).
On his return to the U.S. after World War II, he joined Lewis Bertrand Languages in 1947, where he attained the position of General Manager before he left in 1950 to establish his own translation bureau, The Language Service.
Henry served as President and Vice President of ATA, as a Director for over 25 years, as Vice President of the American Foundation for Translation and Interpretation, and as ATA Representative with the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs (FIT), its Vice President, and Chairman of its Technical and Scientific Translators Committee.
Henry was certified by the ATA for translation from French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese, and was equally competent in Italian and Dutch. He initiated or spearheaded many of the ATA's important programs and undertakings, essentially shaping the Association as it exists today.
Henry was the recipient of ATA's Alexander Gode Medal for service to the profession and the Goldene Ehrennadel for "exceptional merit" from BDÜ (the German Association of Translators and Interpreters). He was a member of the American Chemical Society and the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), as well as one of the founders and two-term President of the Interlingua Institute.
Henry was a prolific author of articles on medical translation and a frequent moderator of and panelist at sessions on medical and scientific translation. In 1998, he was Guest Editor of Translation and Medicine, Volume X in the ATA Scholarly Monograph Series. His articles were published in the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, Advances in Chemistry Series, and other professional journals. In the early days of the United Nations, Henry contributed to the UNESCO compendium on sci-tech translations and later to the official discussions preparatory to adoption of the Nairobi Recommendation to promote translator rights and qualifications.
To me personally, Henry was a mentor, role model, and a dear friend. Having moved his office from Hastings-on-Hudson to Poughkeepsie in 1990, we operated our respective businesses independently from each other but in close cooperation, sharing dictionaries and other resources for 15 years. We had the keys to each other's offices, and for many years we shared the same computer LAN and telephone system. While technically we were competitors, we remained close friends and, upon his retirement in 2005, we purchased the assets of his business, including part of his huge library of dictionaries and other reference books going back to 1950. By that time, The Language Service was the oldest translation bureau in the U.S. operated by its original translator owner.
Henry was predeceased by his wife Stefi and is survived by their daughter Monica and her partner Stephanie, son Peter, daughter-in-law Pattawan, and two granddaughters Chalalai and Saranya.