John Matthew Vlissides
Gone but not forgotten.
It was eight years ago today that we lost a colleague and good friend John Vlissides during Thanksgiving.
John was forty-four when he left us which is my age now. I count my blessings that I have good health and try my best to enjoy every moment with my family.
We never know when our time will come.
Fourth member of the Gang of Four
John had an amazing mind but was extremely humble. He was often quoted as saying he was the “fourth member of the GOF”. This was mentioned in various tributes to John including this one here from “In Memory of John Vlissides” (link now dead) by MarcCC written the year after John passed:
One year ago on Thanksgiving day, my friend John Vlissides died.
I’m sure that many of you have heard of John. He was one of the so-called “Gang of Four” who wrote the “Design Patterns” book that set off a huge fad in software engineering (and quite typically for John, he always insisted on pointing out that the reason he was the *fourth* of the GoF was *not* alphabetical).
My Memory of John
I had the good fortune of working with John for many years on the OOPSLA conference committees. I believe the first time I actually talked with John was back in 2001 in Tampa Bay. That was a very special OOPSLA since it was held just after the September 11 tragedy as well as the anthrax attacks shortly afterwards. There were less attendees for various reasons but I felt that the attendees had a special bond in being the ones that actually made the trip despite the circumstances at the time.
In addition to having my first conversations with John I had the distinct pleasure to sit down for drinks with Kristen Nygaard to plan on how to change computer education with his COOL project. But that is a post for another day.
Tribute to John
The best place to read about John is at Ward Cunningham’s wiki, please add to that page with your memories of John.
My Last Email from John
John did a great job organizing OOPSLA 2004 in Vancouver and made sure that the following conferences would continue a fine tradition. Here I leave the last email I have from John about that conference:
For my last official missive to you all as conference chair (sniff!),
I’d like to remind you to write up your chair reports. There’s no
particular format; what’s important is the content.
Please summarize your activities over the past year in chronological
order. The goal here is to prepare and inform your successor. Record
what you did, what worked well, what didn’t, the pitfalls, crazy
ideas, and any other recommendations that can improve your track next
Please complete the report by November 15 and send copies to
Ralph Johnson, <redacted>
Ken Bauer, <redacted>
Mamdouh Ibrahim, <redacted>
Once again, thank you for your wonderful works. OOPSLA 2004 was a
success by all accounts, thanks to your unflagging diligence and
enthusiasm. I thank God for the privilege of having worked with you