Vern Watts

April 1, 1932 - April 4, 2009

Obituary to be published in the San Jose Mercury News.

Vernice Lee Watts, 77, unexpectedly passed from this life on April 4, 2009 in Sebastopol, CA after enjoying a picnic lunch on the Russian River with his loving wife of 19 years, Carol Montieth Watts.  He is also greatly missed by his sister Bette Mortimore, Coventry, England, his brother John R. (wife Barbara), Tucson, Arizona and many nieces and nephews.

On April 1, 1932 Vern was born in Belleville, Illinois to John E. and Ruth (Peach) Watts.  He attended Graceland College, IA and graduated from Washington University in St. Louis.  In Washington DC he worked for the National Security Agency as a codebreaker.  He served in the Army in 1954-1955 stationed in Ft. Lewis, WA where he married Marilyn Calame, deceased.

On January 15, 1956, he began work as a programmer in the IBM Seattle Service Bureau.  Beginning in 1966 in Los Angeles and later in Palo Alto, he played a leading role in building Information Management System (IMS), the first commercial database management system which even today is relied upon by more than 90% of the Fortune 1000 companies.

Often called “Mr. IMS”, Vern had a long, prominent career as the chief architect of IMS.  He received many, many awards including the IBM Outstanding Technical Achievement Award and held numerous patents. He “retired” after 48 years in 2004 from IBM’s Silicon Valley Laboratory and was then named Distinguished Engineer Emeritus.

Vern was highly respected by colleagues and customers for his technical accomplishments and his generous mentoring of others’ careers.   As an Emeritus, he continued to mentor and advise his colleagues two days a week. The other three days he worked as a consultant software architect at ScaleDB.

Vern loved to travel.  He made friends with colleagues worldwide and enjoyed visiting with them during many trips usually in Europe.  He especially enjoyed vacationing with good friends in Germany and hiking in the Dolomites.

A resident of Santa Clara County since 1971, he greatly appreciated the performing arts generously supporting Theatreworks, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Symphony Silicon Valley, and Ballet San Jose.  He was a lover of good food and wine.  Vern enjoyed football and devoured books mainly mysteries and science fiction.

All friends are invited to attend a Celebration of Life service at Lima Family Santa Clara Mortuary, 466 N Winchester Blvd on Sat. April 25, 3pm followed by a reception at Mariani's Inn & Restaurant a 2500 El Camino Real in Santa Clara.  See map. Visit to share memories.

Consider donations to Theatreworks, P.O. Box 50458, Palo Alto, CA 94303 or Washington University, Campus Box 1082, 7425 Forsyth Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63105 or another arts organization or school in lieu of flowers.