Tribute for Vern Watts

April 22, 2009

Dear Carol,

I sincerely grieve the passing of my friend, Vern, and this grief is intensified by the shock.  After talking with him subsequent to his recent surgery, I was delighted in my belief that all was going to be well, but that was not to be.

I have known and worked with Vern for a very long time, beginning about February of 1966 when we were both working on the creation of IMS.  At that time, Vern was working in the IBM Aerospace Branch Office as the operating system expert, and I was a fairly inexperienced programmer.  From the beginning, for as long as I knew him, Vern not only ran the show but also provided ongoing guidance for so many of us.  In fact, over time, he mentored innumerable people within the IMS organization.  Even when I was a manager, I always tried to touch base with Vern to ensure that I was on the right track.

From a technical viewpoint, Vern’s contributions to IMS and to IBM are legend.  He was always there to develop architectures, to write the Retrieve module, to rewrite the Retrieve module as the complexity of IMS increased, and to implement solutions to problems that others believed could not be solved, thus ensuring the growth and ultimate success of IMS.  If you view the success of IMS today and the contribution of IMS to IBM, the only conclusion is “well done”.

Although Vern’s technical capabilities and contributions really are legend, a giant in his own right, I prefer to remember him as my friend.  I always enjoyed talking with him.  I remember the last time that we talked was a couple of weeks prior to his passing.  I always valued his viewpoint.  I always appreciated his guidance and recommendations.  I and many others will most certainly miss him.

Carol, my prayers are with you.


Carl Chamberlin