As most first days go, my first day at Search400.com was a whirlwind of activity. In the mix was my discovery of the passing of AS/400 guru Al Barsa. I perused the Common website for information on what products had been released at the recent event and came across a press release from Common. My naïveté about the meaning of this news quickly passed as I read remembrances left by friends and colleagues on www.mr400.com and other AS/400-related blogs.
Quickly realizing what Al meant to this close-knit community, I contacted the folks at Common and asked whether anyone could share thoughts about Al. Understandably, Common members’ emotions were still quite fresh, as I’m sure they are for some of you. So while this post arrives two weeks after the fact, we wanted to address Al’s passing with respect and sensitivity.
Bob Krzeczowski, a Common board of director member, shared these thoughts:
I did not know Al Barsa extremely well. Al and I spoke at conferences, and I had several conversations with him at the conference in Nashville and shared a few jokes. I first heard Al speak at a Common conference, what seems like a very long time ago, and learned a tremendous amount at every session of his that I attended. He was an excellent speaker and communicator about this system platform, for which he had so much passion. I also learned a great deal from him in conversation at social events, where I also got to know about his sense of humor and his ability to listen to what you had to say. Al could certainly do that, and was more than willing to tell you what he thought about any subject.
On Monday morning at this past conference I did a small errand for the education office – I took some additional evaluation forms down to one of Al’s sessions about midday. Imagine that – one of Al’s sessions had blown out the handout count. I stuck around and handed out the additional session evaluation forms, and when almost everyone was gone, I walked up to the front of the session room to let Al know that they had gotten distributed and left a few up front in case we had missed someone. Al was in deep conversation with a group of the session attendees but looked over at me and, with that very matter of fact voice of his, said, “I think I gave my worst presentation at Common ever, this morning.” I looked at Al, and responded pretty quickly and simply said, “Well Al, you at your worst is still pretty darn good.” I meant every word of it. Al looked me right in the eye for a moment, stopped, and just said, “Why thank you Bob Krzeczowski,” and went back to his conversation.
I was very glad I ran that little errand. Al Barsa will be missed.
Clearly, Al will be missed. But his contribution to the 400 community will not end any time soon. If you would like to help carry on his spirit and enthusiasm for educating 400 users, you can donate to the Al Barsa Memorial Scholarship.