Robert B.K. Dewar
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1945 - 2015
Dr. Robert Dewar, President and co-founder of the software company AdaCore and formerly of New York, died on Tuesday (June 30, 2015) at his home in Bennington, VT. He was 70.

He was born on June 21, 1945, in Oxford, England. After moving to the US, he attended the University of Chicago, receiving a BS in 1964 and a PhD in Chemistry in 1968. While a graduate student, he started working with computers and soon shifted careers. He joined the Computer Science faculty at NYU in 1975, became Full Professor in 1976, and later served as the Chair of the Department.

A programming language expert, he was actively involved with the Ada language effort from its outset in the late 1970s. He led the Ada implementation teams at NYU which produced the first validated compiler for Ada 83 and later the GNAT compiler for Ada 95, and, together with four colleagues, he co-founded AdaCore in 1994 to commercialize the GNAT technology under Freely Licensed Open Source Software licensing. Dr. Dewar served on the technical group that maintains the Ada language standard, and he was a designer and implementor of AdaCore's GNAT Ada technology. He was AdaCore CEO until 2012 and President until his death.

Before Ada, he was involved in the design of Algol 68 and was a member of IFIP WG2.1 on Algorithmic Languages and Calculi; he chaired that group from 1978 to 1983. He was an expert in all aspects of language technology and co-developed compilers for SPITBOL (SNOBOL),Realia COBOL for the PC, and Alsys Ada, and he also designed and implemented several real-time operating systems for Honeywell.

Dr. Dewar co-authored several books and wrote dozens of articles and technical papers. His talents as an articulate and knowledgeable expert on topics ranging from computers and the law to software safety and security certification made him a sought-after speaker at conferences. He was a recognized expert in copyright and patent law for software and testified as such in a number of well-known cases. He was in many ways a "Renaissance Man" with deep expertise in numerous fields, but beyond his keen intellect and many talents he was a witty, entertaining, and engaging gentleman who enriched the lives of all who knew him.

Outside of his professional life, Dr. Dewar was a superb baritone, a bassoon and recorder player, a conductor, and a member of the North American Heckelphone Society. He was the lifeblood of the Village Light Opera Group (VLOG) in New York, serving for 35 years in numerous capacities from producer to president, from fly master to music director. He was a major benefactor and performed in a myriad of productions with the group. VLOG's Dewar Center for the Performing Arts is named in recognition of Robert and Karin Dewar's contributions.

Dr. Dewar is survived by two children, Jennifer and Keith Dewar, and two grandchildren. His wife Karin predeceased him in 2013. Plans for a memorial service are pending.

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Published in New York Times from Jul. 22 to Jul. 24, 2015.
Memories & Condolences
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6 entries
June 28, 2016
I took a class with Prof. Dewar in the late 90's at NYU. What a mind-expansion that was. Kind, funny, brilliant man. RIP.
Frederick Schneider
December 18, 2015
Professor Dewar was my teacher for undergraduate studies in 1984 and again for graduate studies in 1991. I always remember his enormous enthusiasm as well as his powerful insights and how they could carry an entire class' attention. And of course, how could one not be impressed by someone who could write an RS-232 driver in 8086 assembly language at the blackboard!
Nick Jacobs
August 20, 2015
Professor Dewar was my MS thesis advisor at IIT, and I took other several courses from him. He was a great and patient teacher. I remember him also for his productions of Gilbert & Sullivan musicals at IIT.
John Cole
August 8, 2015
Prof Dewar was an incredibly good teacher. I was lucky to be one of his students back in 1983 at NYU. -Alexandre Polozoff
August 7, 2015
My deepest condolences to you, Jenny and Keith, both from me personally and on behalf of the many Philbeach members who met Robert through our British American Light Opera Exchanges. He was such an enthusiastic participant and contributed so much. He will be sadly missed.
Sue Lyons
July 29, 2015
Robert was a brilliant and wonderful man. i knew him for nearly 40 years since we worked closely together. He will be missed by all of us who knew and loved him.
marc sokol
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