The son of renowned vision specialists Drs. T.J. and Ella M. Arneson, Ted was born in 1924 in Baker, Oregon. He lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota since 1925, where much of his youth was spent combining small one cylinder and two cylinder engines with a variety of wheeled vehicles. His innate mechanical skills led him to open a bicycle shop in his parents’ basement at age 12. He was also heavily involved in a family project building vision-training instruments invented by his father.
Ted’s superb education at Kenwood Grade School and West High School in Minneapolis was supplemented by a life-long fervent pursuit of knowledge. He was a voracious reader, and even more voracious seeker of mentors, experts, philosophers, and sages.
He worked for General Mills in 1942 and 1943 in an R&D program designed by top management to provide jobs for post-war employees; this major precision-manufacturing-plant war effort produced analog-computer torpedo directors and 8" gun sights. Ted did machine work for Dr. B.F. Skinner, later of Harvard University, on pigeon-guided bombs. He also worked on the genesis of a program to develop a line of home appliances which General Mills sold after the war under the Betty Crocker label. Ted worked intimately with General Mills’ top engineering group. He was mentored by several brilliant engineering and manufacturing people, and was given wide exposure to ultra-precision manufacturing processes of a very high level.
In 1946, Ted bought a company which manufactured beauty shop hair dryers, and was wiped out in his efforts by the advent of the Toni® Home Permanent, which decimated the beauty shop business. He was joined by his brother, Harold Arneson, and together they started a small shop adopting the “Professional Instruments Company” name.
Ted married Ruth in 1949. They have three daughters and three sons. Daughter, Mary Arneson practices Occupational Medicine at Park Nicollet Clinic in Minneapolis. Nancy McClure (JD, 1977, U. of Minnesota), formerly a labor negotiater for the State of Minnesota, is currently Senior Vice President, HealthPartners Medical Group & Clinics. Martha Arneson is a Designer. James, Paul, and David Arneson are all actively involved in the operations of Professional Instruments Company.
Under the auspices of the National Tool & Die Association, Ted headed Minnesota’s apprenticeship program for machinists and toolmakers from 1965 to 1970. Throughout the Vietnam conflict, he served on the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Minnesota Selective Service, representing the tooling industry’s need for continuing apprenticeship programs.
Since 1972, Ted was a board member of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the primary business-lobbying organization in Minnesota. He initiated and chaired their Small Business, Product Liability Reform, and Health Care Reform Committees. Ted lobbied many bills in the state legislature and in Washington, generally watching out for the interests of small manufacturers in matters of governmental regulation and taxation.
Ted was awarded the classification Certified Manufacturing Engineer by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and was the Minnesota Tooling Association’s “Man of the Year” in 1967.
Leaving his beloved company in the capable hands of his three sons, Ted passed away on November 21st, 2011. We honor the memory of this remarkable man.