Delivered on April 15, 2013 at Tim’s Celebration of Life service by his daughter, Cherie…
I’d like to tell you a bit about my father’s life. Many knew him, but few knew him for all the amazing things he contributed to this world – from his submarine service, his leadership in the submarine veteran community, his high-tech entrepreneurial career, his incredible love of my mother, the wonderful kids they raised together, how he considered his friends his family, his always positive attitude, his sense humor and even his cute fixation with bunny rabbits.
He was born in 1944 and raised by Helen and Arthur VeArd. His father was career Navy with the family moving around quite frequently – but eventually they ended up in Groton, CT where my dad finished high school and enlisted in the submarine service soon after – with his father being his instructor.
I never got to meet my grandfather – as he passed away while my dad was on patrol. My grandmother passed away in 1992. And he has 2 sisters, Teri and Maddie and 2 brothers, Dan and Michael.
My father met my mother, Lynda, while he was in the Navy – she worked at the credit union on base. But she would have nothing to do with him until he presented his discharge papers. See, she was raised in Groton near the submarine base and she headed her mom’s advice to stay away from those sailors!
But he was absolutely smitten with her. After 8 years in the Navy and nearly a year of courting her – he presented his papers – and they finally had their first date on June 5, 1970. He proposed to her on his sailboat, the Winsome Lady, just a few weeks later, already long ago having had the ring designed. They were married less than 6 weeks later on Aug. 29.
This was no shot gun wedding however – I’m their oldest, and I was born 3 years later. Dad knew who he wanted to spend his life with – he just had to convince her too. My parent’s partnership in life, and their love for each other, has always been an inspiration to my brother and I.
Life next them took them to Virginia Beach, Virgnina where my dad followed his Naval career working for both contractors, and later in the civil service as a government employee. My folks decided to start their family here, having two wonderful kids: first me and four years later my brother Ken.
It was at this point in time.. the mid 1970s, when most folks didn’t even know what computers were – that my dad taught himself to program on these new fangled Wang computers.
I’m sure you can imagine the trouble I caused at preschool when I talked about how I spent my weekends playing with my daddy’s Wang.
He wrote one of the world’s very first database systems which became the base of the rest of his career.
Knowing he could advance no further within the government, he put himself on the market in the private sector. In 1978 he was offered a job in Austin TX to use his software to better manage an existing business and then receive funding to start his own marketing his software idea, which became AIMS+Plus.
AIMS is an acronym for Advanced Information Management Systems, but he always knew if computers turned out to be just a passing fad AIMS could easily stand for Aluminum Insulation Molding and Siding.
My dad was an amazing creator, coder and software developer – we would often be having conversations with him as he solved coding problems in his head. But he soon found out that the skills to write software were not the same skills needed to sell it and run a larger business.
So, he came up with the idea to have a value added vendor network market his software and the company took off, with his system being installed all over the world.
Applications created with AIMS ranged from tracking the heat tiles on the space shuttle, running the Grammy’s music awards, managing major cities, orchestrating big businesses, running retail stores, managing hospitals to running pig farms.
His wanderlust was fulfilled as he traveled extensively around the world to many of his colleagues.
When Wang Computer underwent some major upheaval in the mid 1980s – combined with a riveting movie worthy tale of corporate espionage – his business had to down size from about 50 employees to just 2, and he moved the company into the spare bedroom.
This turned out to be a blessing for our family, as it brought us closer together, allowed him to concentrate on what he does best and we all became involved. My brother and I got to grow up in an entrepreneurial household, learning first hand the delicate dance of balancing quality of life with career.
After I started college, the rest of the family decided it was time to move to Florida in 1992 – where my parents eventually wanted to retire. However, his retirement would be a long time off.
A couple years later I joined the company on a temporary basis to help out.. and two decades later I’m not only stilll involved – but I’m fully running it. I was able to continue learning under my father’s wings the ins and outs of software development and running a small business. It was a very conscious decision to not rebuild a larger company. Our focus was creating a high quality of life, maximizing creativity, working barefoot, working with people we loved and treating our clients as part of our family.
Working with my father for these past 20 years built a relationship that goes beyond father-daughter. I am proud to have counted him and my mom amongst my closest friends.
My father was a pioneer in the computer industry. You will not find many software companies still in existence that can claim their starts as far back as 1978. While he had many opportunities to fully retire over the years, his love of creating and helping his clients kept him fully involved right up until this past December when we finally got him to retire.
While his business life was very important to him, it best served as a foundation for him to create his life legacy.
It all started after a few years of living in Florida when he discovered the submarine he served on, the USS Robert E Lee, had a reunion association. He signed up and the next day a shipmate he served with showed up at our doorstep – it turned out he had been living literally around the block the entire time.
Our family decided that something needed to be done so other shipmates didn’t have these near misses. My father developed a free website called DeckLog that any Naval veteran could come in, look for their shipmates and place their service information online for others to find. It grew to helping veteran associations quickly create their own websites, manage their memberships and plan reunions.
Over the years he served many terms as president of his ship’s reunion group, and base commander of the local submarine veteran chapter – Snug Harbor. Eventually, the Decklog infrastructure become the backbone of the national USSVI membership.
Basically, my dad was ahead of his time again, he had created Facebook for naval vets.
Our family is committed to carrying this legacy on.
Now the bunnies… none us really know where this obsession started. But I know anytime I see one, I’ll always remember my dad, my business partner and my best friend.