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Obituary: Raymond John Noorda (1st part)

Published: Friday, Oct. 13 2006 12:52 p.m. MDT

Raymond John Noorda 1924 ~ 2006 Raymond John Noorda, age 82, passed away in his home in Orem, UT on Oct. 9, 2006 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's disease. Ray was born June 19, 1924, in Ogden, Utah, and was the third son of Dutch immigrants, Bertus and Alida Noorda. Ray wed Lewena (Tye) Taylor on August 4, 1950. The marriage was later solemnized in the Salt Lake Temple. Ray's working life began early as he helped supplement his family's income during the Great Depression. He worked a wide variety of jobs: in a candy shop, setting pins in a bowling alley, as a loading clerk at a train station, picking cherries, selling magazines, and even herding sheep. These early experiences instilled in him a strong work ethic that all reputable employment was honorable. Ray's childhood foreshadowed his future success: by the 4th grade he was CEO of a local playground, where the children ran their own programs. He organized a little league team and would ride his bike to teammates' houses to encourage them to show up at games, peddling them in on his handlebars if necessary. In high school, Ray was an exceptional baseball player. He was asked to join a professional team, but his mother wouldn't let him, saying, "Raymond is going to college!" After graduating from Ogden High School, Ray attended Weber State College in Ogden, Utah. He was called to serve in the Navy as an Electronics Technician during World War II, working in early radar systems for two years. When Ray's service in the Navy was completed, he attended the University of Utah, where he graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering in 1949. He received honorary PhD's from the University of Utah in 1994, and Weber State University in 1995. While in college, Ray was offered a job with General Electric, which he accepted upon graduation. He worked at GE for 21 years in many capacities, including as an electrical engineer and as a regional manager, and later he was involved in GE's marketing efforts. During his years at GE, Ray developed a reputation for entrepreneurship, leading start-ups within the company. Following his years at GE, Ray continued his development as a brilliant businessman. He showed a special talent for turning around struggling businesses, a skill he exercised at a number of California companies, including General Automation, Boschert, Systems Industries, and more, in a position he called "Itinerant President." Ray returned to Utah to join Novell, Inc., as president and CEO from 1983 to 1995. At Novell he spearheaded the success of Netware, the bestselling network operating system linking desktop computers to printers, file servers, and directories. While "Uncle Ray" was CEO, Novell became a giant in the computer industry. This represented the achievement of one of Ray's and Tye's goals in returning to Utah: to cultivate an industrial center for entrepreneurialism and employment opportunities in their home state. As the number of employees grew from 17 to over 12,000, Ray always treated each employee with respect no matter what position they held. Ray Noorda unassumingly earned many accolades as a business genius and technology visionary, and is widely recognized as one of the most important people in the computing industry. He is known as the "Father of Network Computing" for his technical understanding of the emerging technology, and for his business expertise in growing the networking industry to the level of ubiquity we all take for granted today. He coined the term "coopetition", which is now part of standard business education, to represent the win-win principles propelling such industry growth. Using his innate ability to form partnerships, Ray created the model known today in the information technology industry as "the Channel," where manufacturers and resellers grow and prosper together. Continued on next column

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