John N. Warfield

Tuscumbia, Alabama


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John Nelson Warfield, 83, died Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009.

His family will receive friends from 1-2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22, at Morrison Funeral Home, Tuscumbia, with the funeral service following in the funeral home chapel. Michael Dale Boston will officiate. Burial will be in Oakwood Cemetery, Sheffield.

Dr. Warfield was born in 1925 and grew up in Missouri. He was university professor emeritus and laureate from George Mason University, in Fairfax, Va., where he spent his last 16 of 41 years of university faculty service. While at GMU, he was affiliated with what is now known as the School of Public Policy. In addition, he had about 10 years of industrial experience. Dr. Warfield was president of Integrative Sciences and AJAR Publishing Co.

He began his studies at the University of Missouri, but World War II interrupted. After basic training in the U.S. Army Infantry, the Army put him in an electrical engineering program.

After the war, he completed his original undergraduate program at the University of Missouri and continued on to get advanced degrees. Between 1948-49, he acquired his B.A. in mathematics, his B.S. in electrical engineering and his M.S. in electrical engineering. In 1952, he received his Ph.D. from Purdue University, majoring in electrical communications.

He is the author of two U.S. patents on electronic equipment and is the inventor of Interpretive Structural Modeling, Interactive Management, Generic Design Science and the Complexicon, a comprehensive institution for resolving complexity. He is a fellow of the International Society for Design and Process Science.

He is the sole author of several books, co-author of another and co-translator of a classic German work on communication networks. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 papers. He was in demand as a speaker and collaborator outside the U.S., where his research contributions are well known.

He served as elected president of the Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society of the Institute of Electrical Engineers and was a Life Fellow. He served as elected president of the Society for General Systems Research (later renamed the International Society of Systems Sciences).

He served as editor of the IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics for four years. He served nine years as founding editor of the journal, Systems Research (now Systems Research and Behavioral Science). He was awarded the IEEE Third Millennium Medal and the IEEE Centennial Medal.

Dr. Warfield is survived by his wife, Rosamond Warfield, of Sheffield; sons, Daniel Lawrence Warfield and wife, Samantha, of Bentonville, Ark., Thomas Edward Warfield and wife, Monica, of Atlantic City, N.J.; daughter, Nancy Rose Warfield Gray and husband, David, of San Francisco, Calif.; brother, George Daniel Warfield, of St. Louis, Mo.; sister, Flora Margaret Warfield Boston, of Sheffield; four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Pallbearers will be Josh Edwards, David Edwards, John Boston, Dylan Boston, Brad Lenz and deacons from York Terrace Baptist Church in Sheffield.

In lieu of flowers, please send memorials to the American Cancer Society.

Morrison Funeral Home, of Tuscumbia, is directing.

This obituary was originally published in the Florence Times Daily.

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I was Dr. Warfield's secretary when he worked at Battelle Memorial Institute in the early 1970s. I remember his work on ISM and as editor of the IEEE Transactions. He had prepared a flow chart for the editorial process that hung on my wall. Thanks to Dr. Warfield, I was able to work full time while taking courses during the day to complete my bachelor's degree at Ohio StateUniversity. I just happened to think of him today and through the internet, learned of his passing. My condolences...

Please accept my deepest sympathies for your loss. The lost of a love one is the most painful experience we have in life. There is a void that cannot be filled. Rest assured the Bible promises we will hold them again and enjoy their smiling faces forever. It is God's purpose that no one dies ever again and everyone live on earth in Paradise. God never wanted anyone to die but to live happy healthy lives forever on earth. We have to exercise faith in his Son, Jesus Christ, to gain these...

Dear Aunt Rose,

I am so sorry to hear of Uncle John's death. It took Katie,Sarah and I by great surprise. Please know that our hearts and prayers are with you at this time.

Yours Truly,
Mary Ann Warfield

Dear Rose, and to John's family,
Word of John Warfield's passing has reached the old farmstead in Iowa, and of course it brought a tear to my eye. I considered him a mentor in the finest sense of that word, and I will not forget our regular Saturday morning discussions that I craved and that he (and Rose) so willingly endured. He taught me to push my intellect, and to examine the big ideas and assumptions behind various systems of thought. I continue to read works he suggested - just...


Alan and I were so sorry to hear about John's passing and we know how much you will miss him. On the few times we met him whilst visiting our family in the UK, we immediately felt he was like an old friend. You and he so generously welcomed our daughter Samantha into the fold. Thank you so much. We were sorry not to be at his funeral, but hope to see you when we visit Dan and Sam in July. We are thinking of you.

Anne and Alan Cox

Dr. Warfield was able to think outside of the box that is outside of the box for grand schemes that would help society immensely. Yet, it was in the little things that helped me by the applications that Ben Broome did for our department. May God guide his family during these times of remembrance and grief.
Don M. Boileau, George Mason University

As a friend and protege of Aleco Christakis, I have known John and his work through the global community that admires his contributions. I have benefited and learned from John's work, and I am saddened to learn of his passing. His insights and life's work have made a real difference.

My sympathies to Rosamund and John's family.

Dear Mrs. Warfield,

The news of Professor Warfield's passing came in the middle of my doing an intensive workshop with Rotary Peace Fellow grad students at International Christian University in Tokyo. It was a workshop using Aleco Christakis' Structured Dialogic Design Process which grew out of Professor Warfield's Interactive Management work. These tools will become part of every 21st century leader's toolkit! Professor Warfield's legacy will only increase with time!

Dear Dan and Mrs Warfield,

I am truly sorry to hear about your loss. Please accept my condolences. John was a man of great stature, and was highly respected, particularly in the field of systems science, in which I too seek enlightenment. He had remarkable insight into the workings and behaviours of individuals and societal groups, and his teaching and methods are used worldwide. He will be greatly missed.

Warmest regards and deepest sympathy