Farewell Doctor COBOL – Jerome Garfunkel (June 5, 1945 – July 14, 2018)

Many of the old crowd at Micro Focus have very fond memories of Jerry. We’ve gathered some together from friends and colleagues past and present which we hope you enjoy reading.

The COBOL Evangelist

Jerry’s job title at Micro Focus was “COBOL Evangelist”. He was always keen to drive the language in new directions and to ensure customers were successful in using it. Sometimes the decisions didn’t always turn out as expected, like the attempts to add object orientation to the language, where the eventual design by committee lead to a flawed specification, but he was always passionate. It was always better that we did something, and to never give up on trying to solve issues that we came across. There were few more vocal about the potential impact of Y2K, and that was 10 years before ‘it happened’ and the COBOL community quietly and collectively averted potential IT disaster.

An Englishman in New York?

Quite the reverse. Jerry was very affable, laid back and good humoured. He was about as far as you can get from most people’s idea of a brash American from New York. He spent many weeks with us in the UK and was very keen on our national dish, which is of course Curry.

He insisted on driving whilst he was here, despite it being on the wrong side of the road for him. The distinct lack of English rental cars with automatic transmission in those days resulted in many deafening journeys along fast roads in second gear.

Oh Brother

Whenever asked about his brother, he always responded “you mean, Jules?” coyly. [There is a third Garfunkel brother]. But the hair was always a dead giveaway, and appearance-wise, he was so like a bigger version of Art. No less talented, but whose medium was code, instead of music.

The entire Micro Focus COBOL community past and present sends best wishes to Jerome’s friends and family at this sad time, and feels proud to continue the great COBOL leaders’ work in building a bridge (over troubled waters) between old COBOL code and new technologies.

In an email exchange with his friend and fellow motorcyclist Howard Schamest (who got in touch with us via Twitter) Jerry wrote:

“The pace of change is itself changing so rapidly it is nearly impossible to predict what technology will look like in 2025. It is an exciting time to be alive, I hope. It is my greatest reason to live a long life – curiosity.” 

Micro Focus remains steadfastly COBOL to the core and the entire team looks forward to supporting the fine legacy of the COBOL language in 2025 and beyond….

If you would like to add your own memories of Jerry, we’d welcome them in our comments section, or you can do so on his obituary page.

Doctor COBOL, Farewell…….

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1 Comment

  • Many years ago, I took my first trip to Newbury in the UK. It included many adventures such as wiping out Colin West’s C: drive on his office PC by accident, learning the hard way at McDonald’s what a “quid” was, and of course the infamous drive directly across a painted roundabout somewhere outside of Newbury – the last time I was allowed to try driving there.

    I met Jerry for the first time briefly as he was flying back to the states that afternoon. John Triance who had a very special friendship with Jerry was kind enough to introduce me. John had first told me “don’t ask about his brother – he doesn’t fancy that”.

    John later that evening decided to take me to a favorite Indian restaurant which would be my first taste of Indian food. Upon our arrival, the owner of the restaurant inquired “Where’s the big American guy?”.

    Being American and not exactly small myself, I found this quizzical and began pondering if this represented a higher level of English sarcastic humor. John felt my discomfort and looked over at me and said “Oh – Jerry ate here every night for 30 straight days…”

    IN feeling Jerry’s passing, I am reminded of a statement made by Frank our Irish driver some years later as he drove me from Heathrow to the Checkers Hotel during a later visit. Micro Focus had laid off a number of people and had also relocated development from Buck House to the new “Star Wars” building in Newbury recently.

    I asked Frank simply “How’s the morale?”

    Without hesitation he responded “I don’t know – we can’t find any”.

    I think this sums up the deep sense of loss I feel in Jerry’s passing. He was indeed someone who has left a special footprint in my life journey.

    -Howard Hinman

    [This was posted by the site administrator because of a proxy server error. The Gravatar image is not Howard Hinman. A resolution is being worked upon]

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