Brion was a huge influence in my life and I will miss him. Even though I started working at IBM Endicott, I was immediately assigned to work on the Micro/370 project at TJ Watson and Brion became my first real manager. I will always remember the care and patience he took to teach me the ropes, and ever since then I have measured all my subsequent managers against the high bar Brion set (perhaps unfairly to them!).
Returning to Endicott after two fantastic years with Brion, we stayed in touch. Six years later our paths crossed again when he invited me to join the Multimedia Division on the project that eventually became Digital Domain. I still have the pocket calendar from that year that begins with empty days leading up to an entry that simply said "Brion called". After that the weeks and months were packed with travel, meetings, and long rewarding work sessions.
Once again, Brion's quiet and humble competence was my firm foundation during the crazy days of a new start up. We used to joke about what a transition it was to move from a company where the biggest concern was who would be buying donuts for the weekly department meeting to a company where you were lucky if there was enough toilet paper in the bathroom.
Two stories I like to recall:
When I first met Brion he took me to a sushi restaurant. I had never eaten sushi before, and he helped with several suggestions for ordering. There was this strange-looking green paste on my plate, and Brion explained this was wasabi, which you use sparingly since it's so pungent. However, me being a brash and naive new graduate who prided myself on eating hot chicken wings, I proceeded to put a whole spoonful in my mouth and spent the rest of the meal attempting to recover the ability to speak.
After starting on the Micro/370 project I bought my first car (Chevy S10 Blazer), and was travelling weekly between Endicott, Yorktown, and Troy, NY as I completed work on my Master's project. Just one month after getting the new car, I was driving from Endicott to Yorktown on a sleety December morning and had a rollover accident on Route 17 near Deposit, NY. Luckily I wasn't hurt, but my System/370 Principles of Operation manual (Brion's bible) fell out of the car. I managed to collect most of the pages and put it back together.
In any event, after getting a tow to a garage I called Brion: "Brion, I'm in Deposit and won't be able to make it to Yorktown this morning." His response: "What does that mean?". There was a poster in the office from the Pole Position video game. I don't recall whether it was there before the accident or if it was acquired afterward, but someone taped a cutout of an upside-down Blazer in the corner, and my informal Micro/370 nickname became "Pole Position".
I will always cherish many fond memories of working with Brion, and the times we got together for lunch to catch up over the years. He was always genuinely concerned with how everyone was doing. Farewell Brion.