In Memory

Michael Hirsch

Obituary Published July 21. 2013 in the Washington Post (page C8)

Michael Hirsch, telecommunications executive


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Michael Hirsch, an expert on telecommunications and public service regulations who operated a communications firm for more than 10 years, died June 13 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. He was 70.

He had complications from a stroke, his wife, Pamela Hirsch, said.

Mr. Hirsch formed MSH Communications in 1998 and operated the company until his retirement in 2009.

Earlier in his career, he held a variety of governmental and ­private-sector technology jobs, beginning in 1967 as one of Defense Secretary Robert S. Mc­Namara’s “whiz kids” while serving in the Army Signal Corps at the Pentagon.

After working for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection in the early 1970s, Mr. Hirsch was director of policy analysis for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington from 1974 to 1977.

He was a top official of the New York State Public Service Commission from 1978 to 1981 and later was based in Massachusetts, where he often testified before government agencies in New England on issues related to public power, energy and communications.

Mr. Hirsch returned to the Washington area in 1983 and settled in McLean. He was director of data services business development for U.S. Sprint from 1983 to 1990.

As vice president of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (now CTIA-The Wireless Association) from 1990 to 1993, he helped develop standards related to cellular telephone networks.

Mr. Hirsch ran the Washington office of Geotek Communications, an Israeli company, from 1993 to 1998 and helped it negotiate regulations and technical standards with federal agencies.

Michael Seth Hirsch, who was born in New York, was a chess prodigy as a child. He said he once defeated future chess champion Bobby Fischer before they were in their teens.

Mr. Hirsch received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both in 1965.

Among his many interests, Mr. Hirsch collected antique maps and was a member of the Washington Map Society. He competed in chess tournaments and was participating in a duplicate bridge tournament at the time he suffered his stroke, three days before his death.

Survivors include his wife of 29 years, Pamela Rollins Hirsch of McLean; two children, Seth Hirsch of Alexandria and Sarah Hirsch of Sarasota, Fla.; and a sister.

— Matt Schudel


WMS member Michael Hirsch died Thursday June 13, 2013 after a massive stroke.  Michael served the WMS a number of times as a Portolan contributor and book reviewer, a presenter at the May 14, 2005 WMS Map Collecting Seminar, a member of the WMS Board of Directors, and as WMS Treasurer from 1987-1993.

He contributed the following membership spotlight of himself for the Spring 2005 issue of The Portolan:

MICHAEL HIRSCH: Cartographic Interests: European mapping of North America pre-1776; American mapping of the United States from 1800-1850; and catalogues issued by map and book dealers pre-1970. Professional Background: MS and BS in EE from MIT. Comments: Before becoming a consultant on wireless technologies, I was the Vice President of Technology for the cellular industry trade association. A chance encounter with Richard Arkway at a father-daughter weekend at Cornell University stimulated my interest in antique maps. I have been collecting since 1978 and have acquired a substantial collection of maps, atlases, and travel books containing maps. Presently I am selling some of the older maps in my collection to buy American imprints post-1800. I enjoy the interplay of map dealers, auction houses, and serious map collectors which, in reality, is a small, tightly knit, community of less than 500 people worldwide.


Tribute from Nancy Miller

In the early days of the Map Society, for a long stretch Mike was treasurer which he ran from his hip pocket in a very laid back fashion.  I was the society’s secretary.  We were all so excited when the Society membership went over one hundred.

One time we had been working hard on something and we decided to have a working dinner meeting.  The Virginia members wanted to meet on the Virginia side so those of us from the other side of the world traipsed over across the river.  At that time John Snyder was also a member of the Board. John was a dear, wonderful man who was an expert on world projections.  He was also a very devout Quaker.  Mike, on the other hand, wasn't.  When the dinner came to an end Mike insisted on paying for all of us from the Map Society treasury, something that hadn't really been done before.  John needless to say did not approve.  Well guess what - Mike did it anyway.  So here I am, all these years later, thanking all of you in the Map Society for that dinner on behalf of John and Mike.  Mike I'm sure you are grinning at us.  Gonna miss you a lot.


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06/16/13 06:17 PM #1    

Jeffrey Katz

What a sad shock. Michael, his knowledge, insight, stories, his humor, and above all the pleasure of just being with him will be sorely missed by me, along with so many other "mappies". Heartfelt condolences to Pam and the family.


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