U.S. Senator Spark Matsunaga passed away on April 15, 1990, leaving behind a wealth of far-reaching programs for which he was the primary author, ranging from peace to cooperation in space to ocean thermal energy conversion. Senator Matsunaga introduced the first OTEC bill in the U.S. Congress in 1980, a legislation which was signed into law by then President Jammy Carter.
"Sparky" was a highly decorated veteran of World War II, went on to gain a law degree from Harvard University, and spent nearly four decades in public service, with twenty eight years in Congress. He regularly won re-elections with huge margins, and was among the most popular personalities in the U.S. Senate.
Senator Matsunaga had high hopes for OTEC. He saw OTEC as the dominant power source in the Pacific and Caribbean, particularly in view of the attractive coproducts, freshwater and aquaculture.
He suggested the establishment of the Pacific International Center for High Technological Research (PICHTR), and personally sold the merits of international cooperation in OTEC to Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone of Japan and President Ronald Reagan in the mid-'80's. OTEC is now PICHTR's primary technology transfer program.
He was also very pleased that the International OTEC Association was formed in Taiwan, and sent a representative from his office to attend the planning session last year. He had already agreed to provide a keynote address at the first official conference of the IOA.
Senator Spark Matsunaga had two particularly gifted talents: vision, and the ability to carry out the vision. Sadly, he will not be able to assist the OTEC community in bringing this technology to fruition. However, he has provided a gift for the world to develop.