John Earl, security guru, passed away on January 3, 2013.
John is at peace now. He left behind a loving wife, Kathy, and two great kids on January 3, 2013. John was one of the first people I met when I started working for PowerTech many, many years ago. I'm sure he looked at me and thought, "Oh, how little he knows about AS/400 security." Yes, I said AS/400, because when I first got to know John, that's what it was called.
John never looked down on me for what I didn't know. He smiled and began to teach me. I'm sure I asked the stupidest questions, yet he never got angry. He just explained it over again, looking for a spark of understanding. Eventually, I gained confidence and was able to apply my newfound learning—or so I thought. I boldly signed up for a speech at a user group! John accompanied me. I failed. But I had tried. I thanked God that John was there because as I was going down in flames, he calmly stood up, took over, and "landed" the presentation safely, giving the audience some sage wisdom. Then he encouraged me again. While that was a humbling experience, I ended up encouraged by him, and he helped me learn and grow. I always said that John Earl would make a great pilot; he calmly addressed crisis situations and could have explained to the passengers in such a way that they would relax and have confidence that all would be well.
Whether it was managing AS/400 security, telling jokes, coaching wrestling, speaking at COMMON conferences, or just reading, he did everything with flare and passion. I have never laughed so hard as when I did during the times John and I traveled together. John was the master at finding the cheapest airfare to and from user groups and customer calls. I had occasion to fly with him a few times, and to this very day, I'm not sure how he found the airlines we flew on. I'm not sure many of them exist anymore! I'd rib him about the airlines we'd patronize, and he'd laugh and give it right back to me. It was on these trips that I got to know John. I learned he was a voracious reader. I recall one book that he purchased three times, simply because he'd forget it on whatever plane he'd fly in on, so he'd go buy another copy and continue on. And he loved wrestling. As I recall, he wrestled in high school and kind of got away from it, but later, as his son grew up, he got involved again. As was always true with John, he didn't just go watch his son; he got involved. He coached his son in wrestling and used that as an incredible bonding time with him. He also loved the COMMON conferences. He was always there volunteering, speaking, serving. Again, he didn't just attend; he got involved. He loved to laugh. I wish I could share some of his jokes, but like many people, I'm just old enough now and enough time has passed that the details have faded. Besides, I could never tell a joke like John; I never quite had the same "punch" that he could deliver.
I could go on about what I remember about John, but I'll end this by saying that a bright star in our IBM i community was extinguished on January 3, 2013. While that light may be gone, his memory and impact on our community will not fade over time.
John Earl will be missed. Rest in peace, John. Rest in peace.