- Published: November 30, 2023
Harry George Petrohilos, born Oct. 5, 1933, in Athens, Greece, passed away Sept. 11, 2023. As a young boy, Harry went from playing at the Acropolis with his friends to taking cover from bombs dropped during World War II. Shortly after the war, a civil war emerged, creating a very bad situation for Harry and his family.
Shortly after the civil war broke out in Greece, Harry and his two brothers were whisked aboard a plane without explanation as to their destination. While in the air, Harry and his brothers were told they would be arriving in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, to start a new life. Harry would go to the Greek school while working part time at his father’s architectural company. In his spare time, Harry learned how to build radios, hunted and rode motorcycles. After graduating from high school, Harry and his brother Dmitri had aspirations of going to college in America. Dmitri was quickly accepted to UC, but Harry was turned down there due to poor grades. Harry was accepted at Antioch in Yellow Springs.
Harry arrived in Yellow Springs in 1955 as an engineering student. He didn’t particularly care for the academic side of college, but enjoyed any work challenge thrown his way. In the winter of 1957, Harry was assigned a co-op job in Logansport, Indiana, working as a surveyor. Harry’s co-worker friend, Ralph Summers, asked Harry if he and a date would like to accompany him and his girlfriend, Joan Mansolf. His friend would often brag to Harry about how his girlfriend Joan was as beautiful as a Hollywood picture show star.
The day after the date, Joan visited the rooming house where Harry lived. She was very interested in Harry’s stories about Africa. Harry and Joan soon began dating and later married in 1958. Harry graduated from Antioch in 1961 in the bottom 10% of his class.
Harry’s family settled in Yellow Springs. He landed his first engineering job at YSI. It wasn’t long before he was promoted to chief engineer. Harry then moved on to United Systems in Dayton, where as chief engineer he met Paul Diles, his future business partner. Harry, while at United Systems, patented an analog to digital converter with automatic calibration. A few years later Harry began working with lasers. This would eventually lead to an idea that resulted in his invention of the first laser diameter measuring instrument in the world. Harry and Paul would start a company in 1970 in the basement at 170 Miami Drive in Yellow Springs. Later that year, their company moved to Paul Dile’s garage in Vandalia. Harry and Paul founded Techmet Company in Huber Heights. Techmet, a manufacturing company, specialized in laser mikes. The company would eventually grow to 150 employees.
In addition to his parents — George and Elli — Harry was preceded in death by his brother, Dmitri, and grandson, Adam. He leaves behind to enjoy his memories: his wife, Joan; children, George (Julia), Mike, David (Kathy) and Diana; grandchildren Nicholas, Leah, Harry and Eleni; one great-grandchild, Malaya; brother Alex; nephews Tim, Benji and Alexi; and nieces Elli, Daphne and Zoe.
Harry will be remembered as a selfless man who only cared about his family and work. He was president and chief engineer of Techmet company with eight patents to his credit. The last seven years of his life were consumed with taking care of his wife, Joan, who was stricken with dementia. Harry was in a lot of pain the last few days of his life. His language became very difficult to understand. However, one thing was clear. He was overheard asking the nurse if his wife was OK. Harry was a very proud Greek. He made Greek eggs, Greek coffee, and a trademark saying of his was “Do it the Greek way!”