Doug Robinson: Utahn Homer Warner led a full life of service to all

Published: Monday, Dec. 3 2012 10:55 p.m. MST

Warner was a brilliant man. Many of his early ideas came largely from taking two seemingly unrelated classes at the University of Utah — Fourier analysis in the engineering department and calculus in the math department. He married the two fields, applying mathematical and engineering principles to medicine. Specifically, he began to create computer models of how the cardiovascular system works and how its performance could be quantified. Warner and his peers created a whole new field of discipline – biophysics and bioengineering, which later came to be called informatics. They established the department of biophysics and bioengineering at the University of Utah, and other schools followed their lead.

Says Lee, "It made me realize how a phenomenal mind can start with basics and see opportunities."

Warner's mind was always working. During a trip to Switzerland with his mother, he wrote the original computer model for the HELP system in his hotel room. "He worked around the clock for three days while his mother was out shopping," says Warner's son, Homer Jr. "He got so into this, that he locked himself up and finished it."

This is how brilliant Warner was. Later in life, he learned the complicated art of sailing – including Morse code and celestial navigation – from books. He learned it so well, and was so confident in what he learned, that he not only competed in a sailboat race from Victoria, British Columbia, to Maui, but he recruited several family members to serve as his crew.

"You just don't go in the open sea without knowing what you're doing," says Homer Jr.

Somehow, around all the work and study Homer managed a balanced life. He played football and tennis for the University of Utah and East High. He flew airplanes off a carrier in California. He and his late wife Kay raised six children and later served as medical missionaries in Europe. He served as a Scoutmaster for 10 years, and later as a bishop. He skied, biked, golfed and sailed his boat on the Great Salt Lake.

It was a full life. Homer Warner passed away last Friday, leaving a legacy of work that has benefited millions.

email: drob@desnews.com

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