One of my mentors has shuffled off this mortal coil. I’ve only just learnt of it, but Ralph Selfridge (see a reference to him in these pages here, and pronounce it “rafe”, please) died about ten months ago. He was one of my computer science professors at University of Florida, and a friend at the time, but one with whom I, sadly, did not stay in touch with. I have, though, in the Internet age, periodically “googled” him, to check in. And so I knew that he’d retired from UF in 2002.
I once again searched for him on Friday, and found his obituary. With sadness, I went to the “guest book” link there, read the entries, and then added my own.
Here’s what I said:
I’ve only just found this through a Google search, casually looking for where my favourite professor is now. I’m sad, this time, to find the answer.
In 1974 thru 1977, I was finishing my mathematics degree at University of Florida, and studying computer science — I went on to a career at IBM, where the latter served me much more than the former. I met Dr Selfridge early in that time, and loved him immediately for his quirky style, his quick wit, and his easy rapport with the students who could appreciate him.
Dr Selfridge taught me the finer details of the APL programming language, as well as many aspects of being a first-class computer scientist. I’m grateful to him for his role in where my life and career went.
Some of that learning happened in class, and some of it happened at the Rathskellar or the Orange and Brew on Friday afternoons, in what he called the Alcoholic Programmers’ League. We, the students who joined him, felt rather like accolytes accompanying Plato or Socrates.
Over the years, I’ve wished I’d kept in touch with Dr S, but settled for the occasional Google search. I’ll search no more, now, but I’ll always remember Ralph Selfridge with very, very much fondness.