Edward Alan Tennant, "Al", 71, passed away on February 21, 2010 from complications of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) surrounded by his loving family.
Al is survived by the love of his life, Susan (Insognia). Al and Su met May 26th, 1968 and were married May 10th, 1969 in Gloversville, NY. Daughter Julia A. Tennant, Zebulon, NC, affectionately known as "Urch" by her dad, a nickname he gave her while a toddler. By the time she was done playing outside she looked like a little urchin from the pages of a Dickens novel. "My Dad was the most brilliant man I ever met. We would talk for hours about so many different things. He had so many stories of things he had experienced, as well as funny anecdotes about his life. He taught me to expand my knowledge, ask questions and most importantly to question things and find the answers for myself." Son Jason M. Tennant, Trumansburg, NY. Jason learned and enhanced his talents for problem solving and how things are built, work, dismantled and put back together again from his Dad. His awesome Grandson, Garrett Alan Tennant, Trumansburg, NY. It is evident he has inherited his Grandpa's sense of curiosity and how things work. Sister Susan (Jan) Suwinski, Ithaca, NY, brother David Tennant, Gloversville, NY, Cousins Kent Moore of Ithaca, NY, Royal Moore of Coleraine, Northern Ireland and Prescott Liddell San Francisco, CA. Special friend and pizza buddy, Earle Jeffords.
Al was born October 18th, 1938 in Erie, PA to Edward Augustus and Jean Clarinda (Goodnough) Tennant. Al later moved to Ohio, back to Erie, and then Johnstown, NY. As a child Al had a voracious appetite for knowledge; finding out how things worked, were built and always experimenting. Many times as a child he would do things to satisfy his curiosity. Whether it be removing the hinges from the doors or putting the hose down his Grandfather's well and turning the water on, he was always up to something.
Al graduated from Johnstown High School in 1957. He went on to further his education at Cornell University, pursuing a BS in Electrical Engineering. After taking some time off, Al graduated from Cornell in 1973 with his BSEE. He was then approached by NASA to help design and build a prototype for the Mars Rover. He continued his education at Cornell and in 1974 earned his Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering.
Al also worked at Duross Brothers Appliances. In 1968 he started his career with General telephone and was there until 1972. It was also in 1968 he met Susan. On a whim Al decided to act on a friend's invitation to a get together at VanDenburghs Beach in NY. Su and Al became constant companions, even when he was transferred by the phone company to Lake Luzerne, NY. He would make the trip every weekend to Gloversville to spend the weekends with Susan and her family, enjoying the fun, laughter and food of a large Italian family. In 1969 they eloped, and as they say the rest is history!
In June 1975 he went to work at National Cash Register in Ithaca, where he became Senior Principal Engineer. While at NCR he was active in the NCR Credit Union where he became Vice President of the Board of Directors. Al and Su also bought their first home in 1975, a farm house on a quiet country lane in Newfield, NY. They started their family, Julia in 1976 and Jason in 1978, and spent 25 years there.
In 1982 Al presented a paper "Using Microprocessors in Manufacturing" at the ASME Design Conference in Chicago. Al was also proud to be listed in the 4th edition of "Who's Who in Technology Today." In 1989 Al was given a Department of Defense clearance at the Secret level and became part of the team that would design technology for the F-117 Stealth Fighter.
While Al pursued his career as an Engineer, he worked on various projects, including a consulting business, Tennant Associates. He achieved over 40 years of experience designing and developing microprocessor based systems, including both hardware and software. Al was an excellent problem solver and could fix anything. He was also a member of the Harris Hill Glider Club.
In 1999 Al and Su moved to Zebulon, NC. Al really enjoyed living in NC and could often be found on the deck with a cup of coffee, some kind of reading material and cats Briggs and Hootie in his lap. In addition to his human family, Al will be missed by Horton and Briggs, his cats and faithful companions. Horton was a source of entertainment and comfort to Al during his illness. Also our family canines, Julep, Peekoe, Diva, Hickory and our chicken, Poulet.
If you asked him a question you had better have at least an hour to listen to the answer, which would be more detailed and informative than a book! It was not unusual for me to be driving down the road and all of a sudden he would yell "stop!" I'd pull over, he would get out and go check out a transformer, a piece of equipment, something that drew his curiosity. When he was satisfied he would return to the car and we would continue on our way. Al also had a wonderful sense of humor which we will greatly miss.
Our appreciation and Thank you to neighbors Anne and Jimmy Vitt, Earle Jeffords, Janice Overby and the incredible staff at Hospice of Wake County. To daughter Julia, Thank you for your tireless efforts in helping to care for your Dad.
Al chose to donate his body to Wake Forest University where there is a special research program specifically for ALS in hopes that a treatment or cure will be found for this all consuming disease.
In lieu of flowers and services, Al requested donations be made to the following:
ALS Association, Development Department, 27001 Agoura Road, Suite 250, Calabasas Hills, CA. 91301 (Please include his name in donation) or the James A. Brennan Memorial Humane Society, 437 Nine Mile Tree Road, Gloversville, NY 12078.

Published in Ithaca Journal on April 3, 2010