Tributes to George Michael on the Occasion of His Funeral, June 13, 2008

George A. Michael

This is George's obituary as printed in a local newspaper.

George Anthony Michael Feb 16, 1926 ~ June 5, 2008 In Loving Memory George Michael, a resident of Livermore, passed away peacefully in his home on Thursday, June 5, 2008. George was born in Buffalo, NY on February 16, 1926. He moved to Livermore in 1953 from San Francisco to be closer to his job at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab where he held the position of a Physicist for 39 years. Mr. Michael was world renowned for his contributions to the Salishan Conference and the SuperComputing Conference. He was known as the Father of Super Computing. He was a mentor to many young students, who went on to become leaders in their respective fields. Mr. Michael's passions in life were his family and the world of super computing. He was also a lifetime member of the N.R.A. and the Livermore Rod & Gun Club. Mr. Michael was preceded in death by his loving wife Hayde who passed away on December 26, 1986. He is survived by his 8 children: Karen (Dennis Golcher) Tootle of Livermore, Phyllis (Dr. Les) Wong of Michigan, Christine (Ron) Scrivani of Oakland, Patrick Michael of Twain Harte, Michael (Michele) Michael of Livermore, Theresa (Mike) Guerrero of Walnut Creek, Martha (Ray) Gates of Sacramento, Captain Sarah (Ret. Lt. Col. Todd) Standard of Maryland. He is also survived by 18 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. Mr. Michael's dedication, passion and leadership will be greatly missed by all. Visitation is from 5-7p.m. on June 12, Vigil service to follow at 7 p.m. at Callaghan's Chapel 3833 East Ave, Livermore. Mass at St. Michael on June 13 at 11 a.m, 458 Maple St. Livermore. Private inurnment at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to the ACM/IEEE Computer Society High Performance Computing (HPC) Ph.D. Fellowship Program fund may be sent to: ACM
Attn: Stephen Sisler/HPC Fellowship
2 Penn Plaza, Suite 701
New York, NY 10121-0701.

Checks should be made payable to ACM.

This is the notice printed in the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory Newsline.

GEORGE A. MICHAEL Pioneering computational physicist George Michael died at his home in Livermore June 5. He was 82.

Hired as a theoretical physicist in 1953, Michael played an instrumental role in building the Laboratory's high performance computing program and the Lab's international reputation as a leader in supercomputing. The legacy of his 41-year career at the Laboratory includes founding the annual the Supercomputing Conference (SC) that will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year in Austin, Texas this November and the Salishan Conference in Oregon begun in 1981.

In his early years at LLNL, Michael served as a liaison between physicists and the "coders" or computer programmers. "Then the lure of computation overcame me," he recalled in a November 2006 interview. That year organizers of SC06 in Tampa, Fla. recognized Michael for his work as conference founder.

What began modestly in Orlando, Fla. as a technical exchange gathering of 1,400 in 1988, the Supercomputing Conference, held in a different U.S. city each year, has grown into the premier high performance computing (HPC) conference attracting more than 10,000 participants annually representing the leading companies and research institutions in high performance computing from around the world.

Bob Borchers, associate director for Computation in the 1980s, said Michael had a rare ability to galvanize the people around him to a cause or project that made him uniquely qualified to bring together the larger scientific computing community. "George's role was always to build communities," Borchers said. "He was a genius at bringing people together to work towards a common goal."

"George got the weapons people to talk to the computing researchers and industry people," Borchers said, noting that Michael organized and founded one of the Lab's first computing research organizations.

Mike McCoy, deputy associate director for Computation and head of LLNL's Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Program, said that Michael helped lay the groundwork for the tri-lab ASC effort. "George Michael's powerful influence and the conferences he was instrumental in founding helped define what supercomputing is today," McCoy said. "One of his most remarkable attributes was that he was so modest about his contributions. Even his family was largely unaware of his reputation in the computing world."

Even after his retirement in 1991, Michael continued to be active in the HPC community and devoted time to compiling a history of computing at LLNL, notably documenting computing innovations that had been poorly documented or overlooked altogether. These can be found on Michael's Website:

"One important realization that's come from George's historical work is that much of what we now take for granted in computing was pioneered at Livermore: high quality graphics and sound, the machinery that generated them, and the software that ran on it. All got at least some part of their start at LLNL," said Tom DeBoni, who retired after a career in UC computing facilities at Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley lab, and who helped Michael compile historical material for his Website. "Some of the early work documented on our site was ahead of its time. The lineage from then to now is readily apparent. It goes to show that one cannot easily predict how useful an idea will be nor where it will lead, and we owe a lot to the scientists and engineers at Livermore who weren't afraid to experiment."

Born Feb. 16, 1926 in Buffalo, N.Y. where he grew up, Michael attended and received a physics degree from the University of San Francisco. While at USF he also worked as a postman. He came to work at the Laboratory after graduating and moved to Livermore where he raised his family. While the Laboratory may have been a second home, he was dedicated to his family and it wasn't until late in his life that his family became aware of his important contributions to computing. "His focus was always family when he was at home," said his daughter Karen.

He's also remembered for his sense of humor and love of practical jokes as evidenced in his contribution to "Fifty Years of Stories," a book of stories the Lab published for the 50th anniversary celebration in 2002.

Michael is survived by his eight children: Karen Tootle of Livermore; Phyllis Wong of Michigan; Christine Scrivani of Oakland; Patrick Michael of Twain Harte; Michael Michael of Livermore; Theresa Guerrero of Walnut Creek; Martha Gates of Sacramento; Captain Sarah Standard of Maryland; 18 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

Mass is at St. Michael's Catholic Church today (Friday, June 13) at 11 a.m., 458 Maple St. Livermore. Private interment will be at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions to the ACM/IEEE Computer Society High Performance Computing (HPC) Ph.D. Fellowship Program fund may be sent to: ACM Attn: Stephen Sisler/HPC Fellowship, 2 Penn Plaza, Suite 701, New York, NY 10121-0701. Checks should be made payable to ACM.

This is the eulogy given by George's daughter, Karen, with support from her siblings and all of George's grandchildren.

Dad's Eulogy On behalf of my siblings and me, we thank you for your presence, your words, and yours prayers. As you can imagine, it is difficult to stand up here today. Dad's advice in these kinds of situations was this:

"Look out at the crowd, open by saying, There are at least 10,000 people who know more about this subject than I do, but having looked around the room, I see that none of them are here today, so I think it is safe to proceed."

Well.. Dad... I don't think I can take your advice today. From the looks of it, there are numerous folks out there who indeed know a lot about you. And geez, here we are here in God's house. He's All Knowing. So, I ... think... we have a situation where your advice may not work today. So here is Plan B, ... Dad. As you would have wanted, we all sat down together and composed this letter.

June 13, 2008
Please deliver to: God The Almighty
Creator, Heaven and Earth
At 1 Heavenly Circle
Celestial, Universe 02-16-1926
Regarding: George Anthony Michael

Dear God:

You can expect a man named George to appear at your pearly gates very soon. You can't miss him. He will probably be impatient - he will be wearing a black and grey poncho, birkenstock sandals, have his cribbage board under one arm, a deck of cards in the other, and he is likely to introduce himself as "My Name is Crime and I don't pay."

Now, George is a big, big man. He had to be that way because his heart was so big... and with such a big heart, he needed that body. That heart made every person seem special. What a unique quality! That heart was so huge because even though he had 8 children, 18 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren and 3 on the way, he was always willing to accept another one of you into our family. In Dad's words, it is also important to notice that there are 8 added persons - husbands and wives - that fully complete our family. Together they have helped make it such a happy place. So God, that's why he was such a big, big man. Please give him a special place.

As you know God, Dad was a Renaissance man, a polymath, a person who excelled in multiple fields. He was a woodworker, debater, cook, wine connoisseur, electrician, teacher, mathematician, activist, physicist, philosopher, wine maker, brew master, linguist, critic, hunter, mechanic, plumber, marksman, pianist, computist, comedian, visionary, storyteller, learning junky, photographer, card player and mentor. We are not kidding God. He really was great at all these things. From the day he got his first book (out of a garbage can as a young boy), Dad never stopped building book cases to house his enormous collection of "friends." That would be his books. Dad was never shy about sharing his "friends." We all have had the experience of getting a book of two from dad. If you ever talked with Dad about anything, his skills as a debater, philosopher, teacher, linguist, critic and mentor were obvious - as was the fact that he never wanted to lose. If you argued one position, he took the other. And the thing was, he KNEW - he knew. Very few people in this world have read as much, learned as much or remembered as much as Dad.

Did you know Dad was a top marksman? Yes God, in his younger days, Dad was a member of his college Rifle Team. When he moved to Livermore, his passion for target shooting helped him and others start the Livermore Rod and Gun Club - where Dad really got a kick out of teaching his children to target shoot. He taught hunter and safety classes at the Club as he believed passionately in doing things the right way.

And yes, God, that man could play the piano. Every night Dad sat down at the 88s. While others use the tv to lull themselves to sleep, Dad rocked us to sleep with the ivory keys. He was so good he could play two pianos at the same time - sitting between them, arms spread wide. He was the Boogie Woogie Man. Dad's love of music drove him to build a room onto our new house just for music. He purchased the first 10 play CD player, then the first 100 play CD player, then the first 300 play CD player, then the first 10,000 song IPOD player, and then... well let's just say that we have a lot music coming out our ears, thanks to DAD. Dad certainly instilled a love of music in all of us. Oh and God... we hope you have a lot of storage space in heaven for his music needs.

God, you know that dad was a physicist. Well... on second thought, we had better not talk about what dad did as a physicist because if we did, you would have to kill us... as they say. Dad was passionate about his work. It sort of went like this - Dad left for work in the morning. At around 5:30 or 6 in the afternoon, Mom would start her refrain - "Where is your father? Dinner's going to be cold." Then Dad would zoom in on his vespa - late. He'd rush in, find Mom, give her a kiss, and then dinner was served. Roughly 2 hours later, after vigorous debate and his children went to bed, off he would zoom back to the Lab. This passion also led Dad to what many people here today know about - the Supercomputing Conferences and the Salishan High Speed Computing Conferences which he started. Many people would venture to say the Salishan HPC would not exist if it were not for Dad. At the very least, it would not be a community as it exists now. Dad is the Father of Supercomputing. Yep - He was a great organizer and folks gravitated to him which made his meetings popular, not to mention effective.

But God - we knew the real story... while Dad's legacy in these fields cannot be denied, Salishan was really a boondoggle. It was nothing other than a real good excuse to spend at least 3 days wine shopping in Napa with Mom. "Life is too short to drink cheap wine." This was the essence of many of Dad's outlook on life.

Dad was curious, always displaying a robust philosophical playfulness in his interactions with others. I bet none of you can deny ever hearing this riddle before, "What is the only four letter word in the English language to end in 'eny'?" Math trivia and logic games were a regular part of growing up.

He had a knack for shaking us out of our comfort zones, pushing us to excel, questioning us about the curious, interesting and sometimes uncomfortable aspects of life. He started many a discussion with "for arguments sake... " Dad could talk about any subject... reciting passages from books he read years previous, reading and informing himself on a many subjects... reading most every book he ever purchased and had in his home. Dad was always happy to discuss any subject with you, but you better have your facts straight... Most importantly, God, Dad cared - he cared intensely that we never let our minds idle, and that we always took a logical approach to life.

You know God, when we were composing this letter we realized that we would be taking up too much time. But we cannot close without at least adding these additional words...

  1. Hope you have a good kitchen up there Lord... he loves to cook his Syrian bread at 3:00 o'clock in the morning.
  2. Be prepared for lots of stories - and he really likes to talk about his kids.
  3. Dad always pushed for ways to improve things. We warn you, he will have a discussion with you about how you could improve processing souls into heaven. No doubt, he's already developing a high speed computing program to handle the load.
  4. We will never forget the tenderness he showed towards Mom and how he referred to her as his bride, even after the many years they had been married. He may be searching for his "Stem"... so please help him to find her. We know Mom has been waiting to play duets once again with Dad.
  5. Remember, any man can be father, but not everyone can be a Dad. Family was - well - the most important thing to our Dad.
  6. Remember Dad's words:
  7. I am always with you
  8. Remember children, you are all you have,
  9. Remember Men... Love one another

So God, in closing, this is George Michael. We are confident that you will embrace him in your loving arms.

With All Praise and Honor to You, Oh God,
Martha and