I found out yesterday that a fellow comrade in the UNIX/Open Source world, Ron Roberts, died suddenly at the Kerrville Folk Festival. There is still no word about exactly what happened, and it occurred to me how little I knew about Ron other than the fact that he was a computer enthusiast. So I took a gander around and finally found Ron's web site (where I acquired the photo you see here).
So aside from the fact that Ron is a native Texan, born in March of 1950 in Houston, and that he's always struck me as being a damn good system administrator, he apparently clowns-around (seriously, "Ronzo The Clown"), has dabbled in playing acoustic guitar, and enjoys sailboating. So this probably accounts for his wacky sense of humor and the fact he has always been an easy-going voice at the CACTUS (UNIX computer user group) meetings. He lives with his "lady" (as a close friend called her) Kat, who shares his love for acoustic music.
As you may have noticed, I have a bit of trouble writing about Ron in the past tense. While I haven't actually seen him in several months, when I did see him (typically at the monthly user group meetings) it was always a pleasure. I recall his surprise when I told him I was finally going to give-up FreeBSD. At the same time, he was one of the few people I knew that actually understood why I was going to Linux instead.
I'll say that I don't handle death well. I don't care much for going to funerals, so I usually don't. I like to honor the passing of the people I know in my own way, because I feel it's a very personal thing. Some people gather strength through congregating with people who knew the deceased, and others (like myself) like to take some time to remember the person in relative solitude. Since I don't really believe in an afterlife, I think that the parts of ourselves we leave behind with the people we have touched is important. In Ron's case, he shows that computer enthusiasts can have a creative and wacky side as well as a seriously technological side. Ron also showed that computer guys can and do like to put the computer aside and appreciate acoustic music and have a concern for what's happening in the world. Ron, you'll definitely be missed, but rest assured that you've left your mark on the world, and it was, indeed, a good one.