Dr. Larry Winiarski, the Technical Director of Aprovecho Research Center (ARC) and OSU PhD gradauate in mechanical engineering, died this past week at the age of 81. Larry is largely considered the grandfather of the global clean cookstove movement because he developed the ten design principles to optimize heat transfer and combustion efficiency in the "rocket stove" in the 1980s. Since then over 10 million rocket stoves have been made by local projects and inspired countless additional stove designs and projects. These simple engineering principles could be taught to indigenous people, mostly women, who were the experts in using the stoves.
Larry led teams from ARC around the world starting in Central America, where the rocket-based "plancha" stove was developed after he found that a floor tile called a baldosa made a long lasting and relatively low mass combustion chamber that was surrounded by wood ash, a great natural source of refractory insulation. Dr. Winiarski was born in Honduras and would have a wonderful time speaking Spanish as stoves were constructed and flavorful food prepared.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Larry had a heart of gold. He picked up sick kids and walked from the city dump in Managua to a distant hospital. He slept on cement floors for months at a time in Haiti. Larry lived as others lived in Africa for years and because of his character was loved and respected in villages worldwide. His Rocket stove found a place in people’s homes in the same way that Larry was cared for, accepted, and loved by strangers. Larry is missed by thousands of friends and he was blessed with a life well lived.
His obituary can be found here and there will be a Celebration of Larry's Life on Saturday, August 28, 2021 at 1:30 PM, at Colgan's Island, 79099 Hwy 99 N in Cottage Grove, Oregon.