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SCHNECTADY — Walter L. Robb, an engineer who rose to become the director of General Electric Co.’s research and development center and in retirement nurtured local inventors and sports teams, died Monday after contracting COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. He was 92, according to a family member.
It appears that Robb, who fell ill late last week, is the first confirmed fatality in the Capital Region from the pandemic.
Richard Robb, one of his three sons, told the Times Union on Monday that his father had asked for help as he cared for his wife, Anne, who is also believed to have COVID-19. Walter Robb, who was suffering from a serious cough at the time, was persuaded to go to the hospital to get examined.
He was admitted and immediately put on a respirator. His condition quickly deteriorated, and at 11 p.m. Sunday the family was notified that Robb was failing. He died at 5 a.m. Monday.
Robb was known for his improvements to advanced imaging equipment, in particular his work on the computed tomography (CT) scanner and the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. They became major products for GE with broad applications in health care and other sectors.
But Robb also was a supporter of inventors and entrepreneurs, investing in numerous startup companies. He owned a local hockey team, the Albany River Rats, for a dozen years, as well as the Albany Conquest arena football team.