I owe much to my dear friend and first real mentor, Dr. Ralph Buice. I studied Computer Science under him as an Independent Study student from 1975-1980. He instinctively knew just how to shape my youthful enthusiasm for all things scientific into a mature career focus. Ralph never gave me an answer that he felt I could find for myself. He also introduced me to Julius D. W. Staal as another mentor and friend.
Even though he taught me so much, two incidents spring to mind as I think of him. The first one is funny: immediately after the release of the first "Star Wars" film, he began masquerading as "Darth Vader" on the FORUM newsgroup program hosted on Ga. Tech's mainframe. Don Barry and I were among the first to discover messages from "Vader." He kept up the charade for several years and never did admit to the prank, even though the evidence was overwhelming! His messages revealed a droll sense of humor and a willingness to engage his young students in an intellectually mischievous manner -- not just as educator to student.
The other thing that comes to mind was more personal. When Don Barry and I graduated High School in the Spring of 1980, Ralph took us both to dinner to celebrate. Not just any dinner, but a full-course meal at his favorite gourmet restaurant, The Diplomat. Since Don and I were newly of drinking age (at the time), Ralph had previously and surreptitiously received permission from our parents to have wine served with the dinner: a Château Lafite Rothschild! (I still have the bottle to this day.) That dinner must have cost him a fortune. A remarkable act of kindness from a remarkable man.
Ralph, you will be deeply missed. What an impact you made upon my life and upon so many others.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18