LeRoy Eide, friend and beloved former UIT employee since 1970, passed away on February 13, 2018.
Current and former University of Utah employees have shared some of their favorite memories of LeRoy for this webpage. If you have a remembrance or photos you'd like to share, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
LeRoy's work history at the University of Utah:
- Computer Center (UUCC) 1970 - 1995
- Academic Computing and Library Information Services (ACLIS) - 1995 - 1999
- Network and Communication Services (NetComm) 1999 - 2007
- University Information Technology (UIT) 2007 - 2015
My favorite LeRoy Eide story is the one where he booted a mainframe from a printer. John Halleck will be able to tell the story better than I, but as I recall, LeRoy loaded the boot sequence of the mainframe into the printer buffer and then forced the mainframe into a hung state. He told an engineer that the mainframe was down and while the engineer puzzled over how to bring it back online, LeRoy reversed the printer buffer, bringing the mainframe back to life. LeRoy left the room without explaining what had just happened to the engineer.
~ Seth Wanlass, former U employee
I have known LeRoy for over 30 years. At first, I remember him wondering the halls of the Merrill Engineering Building when I first worked over there.
He was a large presence and at first I was a little bit intimidated when I needed to ask for some help on my first real project for the Computer Center. However, I went up and explained that I had a project that I need to accomplish and would like his help. Without hesitation, he invited me into his office and we spent many hours discussing it.
This is when I first learned that if you ask LeRoy for help, you will get a firehose of information. He really did believe in the old adage of teach a man to fish, not just give him one.
LeRoy soon became a most valued mentor from that first long conversation about the accounting system on the old Univac 1160. I soon learned that LeRoy had much valued information and wisdom on a whole host of subjects other that just computers and information technology. His interests ranged from human language and linguistics to music and art in addition to his profession in information technology.
I will very much miss my friend and mentor.
~ Robert Roll, retired UIT employee
LeRoy was someone I could always turn to for his honest opinion. He loved to explore the complexities of the full problem and not just a surface solution. I had the highest respect for LeRoy's commitment to deep thinking and elevated problem solving skills. He is greatly missed.
~ Mike Ekstrom, Network and Communications Infrastructure
Three brief stories:
LeRoy once told me, "I saw an interesting sentence today. I can't wait to get home and diagram it!"
LeRoy walked into my kitchen one day and said, "Semantic drift!" I knew I was in for a long evening.
I learned that you should never play Scrabble with LeRoy. He would always play words that looked like he made them up. Every time I challenged him, I was wrong.
~ Shellie Eide, University Support Services, LeRoy's daughter-in-law
He was a big man that wore the coolest hat. A gentle giant. I am glad he touched my life ever so briefly. He helped me be a better man.
~ Bryan Wooten, Information Security Office
February 13, 2018: At a little after 5am this morning, my mentor, friend, and coworker for more than 40 years, LeRoy Norman Eide passed away.
His passing will leave a hole in my life and (I'm sure) the lives of very many others. Anyone who worked with him probably has a number of LeRoy stories that they could share. (I certainly do).
He was one of the best teachers I've ever met. Many people that attended his "introduction" lectures on a number of topics, and mini-courses, fondly recount stories of the jewels that they learned, and the surprisingly deep insights he shared. And his handouts on some topics were better than some books on the topics. Some deserved to be published. A popular quote when people had questions on a topic was. "If you REALLY want to know the answer, ask LeRoy, but don't ask unless you want to REALLY want to understand the answer." This was because if you asked, he would work with you until you REALLY understood the topic ... and this could take a while.
He had a master's degree in Mathematics, and did work in it for fun up until his health turned bad recently. I have many, many memories of hours exploring new insights and the beauty of new clean beautiful results he had derived. Many of these also deserved to be published.
He was a computer programmer, and a grand master of that trade. I worked with him on many projects that could not have even been done without his insights, including one that a major university had tried and failed to complete. I learned much from him, both in theory and in practice.
He had a love of Linguistics. A department chair in linguistics once said, "I don't know why he doesn't just go for the degree, he's taken all the courses." The real answer was he couldn't do the fieldwork requirement around work and family demands.
He had a special interest in the history of English, and shared interesting tidbits regularly.
He was a father of two sons, and raised them into outstanding young men. He shared insights and advice that improved my parenting notably. He was known to help others that needed direction and sometimes assistance.
He was a deeply religious person, although most folk weren't much aware of it because he avoided contentious arguments on the topic. As he said, "You won't change their minds, and yelling at them will just make you both feel worse."
The world has lost a fine man, and a good example.
LeRoy used to have a stack of dictionaries (of several languages) in his office ... and I once saw, and purchased, a Klingon dictionary. As a practical joke, I slipped it into his stack near the bottom. Some very long time later he appeared in the doorway of my office, Klingon dictionary in hand, and said that he suspected that I was responsible for it.
He then, over the next week, read it cover-to-cover. The language had been invented by an actual linguist, and LeRoy said it showed.
When he finished, the next time we had lunch together, he filled me in on the language structure, its grammatical roots in Swahili, the signs in the language that, had it been a real language, would indicate how the older form of the language evolved, etc.
I was impressed that he had attacked it with just as much care as if it had been a real language.
No point to this story, other than it being LeRoy being typically LeRoy.
Another memory of LeRoy: Back when we were part of the University of Utah Computer Center (UUCC), LeRoy had an interest in renaissance music (in addition to his love of classical music, etc.).
For some period of time, once a week as I remember it, three other people would squeeze into his little office at noon, and the four would practice playing renaissance music on recorders.
It was quite pretty, really.
Edit: LeRoy's office was normal sized, but there were stacks of papers and manuals everywhere. Fitting four people in there was a feat worthy of mention.
LeRoy grew up with Lewis and Clark stories because he was raised in North Dakota along their route. [People in Montana, Idaho, and Washington and anywhere else on the route also grow up with the stories.]
Some vacation or other he ended up seeing a volume about the journals they kept, the maps they made, fleshed in historical context, etc.
In the end he tracked down and purchased all the other volumes in the series. He bought a set of shelves to put them on, and took that collection, those shelves, other Lewis and Clark related books (Including one I vividly remember of pictures taken from a hang glider along the route in modern times) and set them all up in his cubicle at work.
Our other coworkers took to calling this "LeRoy's Lewis and Clark Shrine." He would point out, to people who asked about it, stories and sections that he thought they would find interesting. He was usually right.
He would tell stories of the expedition, and tell them well. He interested many in Lewis and Clark. And he increased the interest in those that already knew of them. I spend many hours reading the journals over time. And this also led to numerous fruitful discussions.
Coworkers from other countries would not have heard of them, and he did his bit for sharing this part of American history (with context) with them.
As almost everyone knows, LeRoy was *heavily* into Linguistics. Linguistics is a very interesting field, but it is generally not noted for people writing rousing songs about language change or other parts of linguistics.
The University of Utah Department of Chemistry had a student (graduate student?) who liked to write folk songs. Her name is Cat Faber now, I don't know if that was what it was then. And she later went on to be one of the group, "Echo's Children," that specialized in what some called "Literate Folk Songs." They published a number of albums I love.
One of her songs, "Yogh and Ash and Thorn," [ http://www.echoschildren.org/NonCDlyrics/Yogh.html ] *IS*, in fact, a song about language change, specifically the history of the loss of the three letters Yogh, Ash, and Thorn from the English language.
Many of you know that inside linguistics LeRoy's real passion was the history of English, and linguistic change in general. So this song hits his main interests directly.
Well, to shorten what is getting to be a long story, two friends of mine (Beverly and Holly, for those that know them) learned to sing that song. And they knew that I had a linguistics interest, which I mostly got from Leroy. So they surprised me by coming over and singing it to me. It was wonderful. I told them that I knew someone that *HAD* to hear this.
I don't remember any more whether it was LeRoy's birthday, or we waited for his birthday. But, in any case, as I remember it, on his birthday we three dropped in at LeRoy's place. He invited us in, and he sat down and motioned us to sit down. I sat down, they stood, and I said I brought something for you to hear.
B&H sang the entire song. LeRoy said nothing, a smile came over his face, and by the start of the chorus he was entranced.
Needless to say, the song was a great hit with him. And that is the biggest smile I ever saw him with. (Except for, I guess, some news from home.)
Edit: Honestly, it did not occur to me until I finished the above that the entire theme of the song is mortality, albeit that of letters and sounds. So I guess it is a more appropriate story than I thought.
~ John Halleck, retired UIT employee
Read more memories of LeRoy on John Halleck's Facebook page.
I never knew if it was LeRoy Eide or John Halleck who created the "Insecurity Formation Office" sign, but it still makes me chuckle. Leroy was smart, wise and funny. I always enjoyed his stories and explanations and know that he will be missed.
~ Steve Scott, former UIT employee
John Halleck’s reply:
It was LeRoy. But I thought it was brilliant.
He asked the guy that put up the real one "Information Security Office" where it came from. Then he went to that company and had the "Insecurity Formation Office" sign made to the specs of the old one.
And then we laughed for months as the substitution went unnoticed. And, Steve, it was noticed that you took it with you. I think LeRoy felt flattered that you found it worth keeping.
Will there be a ceremonial passing on of the suspenders? Will they be lit on fire on a boat on the Jordan River disturbing ducks and a few fishermen?
~ Beth Sallay, UIT Campus Computer Support
In 2001, I moved from San Antonio, TX to Utah to begin research and teaching as a new assistant professor in the Department of Communication. When the department's desktop support person informed me that everyone was assigned an email address based on initials and a number, and that my email identity was going to be "cv4," I asked how to request an exception. He gave me LeRoy's phone number.
When I explained to LeRoy that "cvb@" had been my email identity for years at three other schools, and that cv4 didn't accurately reflect my initials, LeRoy quickly changed my address. To my delight, he kept the conversation going, asking me about my research and academic background, describing his own intellectual interests, and more. It was an engaging and free-ranging talk, and when we hung up I thought, "Wow, if the U's IT people are all like LeRoy, I know I'm going to like this place!"
~ Cassandra Van Buren, UIT Strategic Communication
I first met LeRoy at the dawn of the internet and the services it began to offer. This would be in the mid-1990s. Working at what was organizationally known at the time as Instructional Media Services Video Productions, I was assigned to produce and direct a video series of awareness/tutorial videos for various Internet functions, such as a thing called electronic mail and something referred to as file transfer protocol (all very mind-boggling at the time).
My subject matter expert and on-camera "talent" was none other than LeRoy. Together, we embarked on creating one of the first sets of VHS tapes that were distributed to librarians across the state of Utah, in order to prepare them for the onslaught of internet-based services they would not only need to master, but also to inform and educate their library patrons and visitors.
LeRoy was the Zen master of this stuff. He broke down what was indeed very complex and very geeky into logical, step-by-step introductions on how to use the new communication features of this medium called the World Wide Web. My gosh, we were even able to include in the video the actual screen prompts as seen via a Macintosh IIX, monochrome computer (with a whopping 10MB hard drive). As I recall, we quickly ran out of the first duplication run of VHS copies of the six programs created. Just think of how many individuals moved at lightning speed from the era of card catalogs to the ever-expanding landscape of personal computers and the Internet.
It was much work. I was gobsmacked at how much LeRoy had rattling around in his brain and his ability to communicate that effectively to the uninitiated. What a unique pleasure and an honor to work with you, LeRoy.
~ Paul Burrows, UIT Teaching and Learning Technologies
My first recollection of LeRoy Eide was when I started my involvement with the Computer Center, and he was a systems programmer for our Univac computer system. In about 1992, the Computer Center was given the task to support the IBM RS/6000 Unix system on campus. LeRoy worked hard to learn UNIX and became very proficient in a short amount of time.
We worked many years together on many projects, even when we moved to the Marriott Library and were incorporated into the staff there. After that time, he was transferred to NetCom and the campus services there. He was always quick to solve account and email problems and knew those communications systems well. He was always ready to help with any concerns, but most of my memories were in learning from him in many areas that interested him.
Especially fascinating to me was his understanding of linguistics and etymology. I loved asking him about certain words and we enjoyed talking with each other about the peculiarities of the English language. One time, we, as a group in our little hallway, took a bunch of used floor tiles and made a large crossword/Scrabble layout of words on the floor of the hall. There was a time also when he and some others formed a recorder quartet and practiced during lunch hours. Some of the music was fairly standard, but they enjoyed some really esoteric numbers as well. I even took one of those pieces and transcribed it on the Macintosh in the early years in MusicWorks. He got a kick out of it because we could also play the music upside-down and backwards (reversing/inverting the clefs and playing it backwards), and the music still sounded very strange, much the way it was in its original form. We had some fun times with the Computer Center picnics and he was known for his "world-famous" chili.
I really miss those times. LeRoy will not be forgotten.
~ Joseph Buchanan, former UIT employee
LeRoy was never at loss for words and willingly shared his knowledge. I value his wisdom and yes his wit and found he had a kind heart and a gentle soul. LeRoy touched many lives including mine, and that I will always be grateful for.
~ Jan Lovett, UIT University Support Services