“There is no greater sorrow than losing a friend, no greater joy than remembering one with others.”

Let’s go back in time a bit. In 1990, I was a part-time Jr. Sysadmin for a little company in Raleigh, NC called DaVinci Systems. Those of you on Novell Networks at the time may know it – they made DaVinci eMail[1].

Not long after I started, Larry asked me to come join the Tech Support team full-time. My first office mate was Greg Casey. Thanks to Greg, I learned lessons about troubleshooting, customer service, and patience. Greg, Larry, Misha (the other frontline support rep), and myself were the technical support group through the bulk of the 1.x releases – a good year or so, and one of the best work-environment experiences I’ve had in my career.

DaVinci was a great place to work, and we were FAMILY. To a very large degree, we still are. Distant family, but family none-the-less. The entire company (from that time period) was at Greg’s wedding, and again a few years later at Misha’s wedding. By then, though, a lot of us had gone our separate ways. I was fresh back from NYC, Larry had co-founded the successful One Tree Software, and the internet revolution was in full swing.

Over the next few years, we all kinda lost touch, but I would still see Greg around town. He was always seemed in good cheer, healthy, and happy with where he was.

Feb 27, 2009 at 8:30pm, Greg died at the age of 43.

What I knew, like most (if not all his friends), is that Greg had Cystic Fibrosis. His doctors didn’t expect him to live to 20. In the late 80’s/early 90’s, when I knew him, he was the anomaly, and I think he took a certain joy in proving them wrong. And aside from the infrequent day out or mention of it, you’d have never known.

Over the last few months, he’d been getting steadily  worse as the disease took it’s toll. In the end, Greg made the decision to have them disconnect the machines that were keeping him going, and he left this world in peace.

Greg lived his life to the fullest. Everyone who knew him (and there were a lot of us at his memorial – including damn near everyone fomr Da Vinci, most of whom I hadn’t seen since I left for NYC in ’93) loved him. I’ll always remember the 20-something guy who put up with my punk-ass 20-year-old attitude. Who taught me to be a good tech, a good support rep, and to have patience with anyone and anything thrown at me.[2] [3]

All of us – and there’s an email list of friends and family – are still dealing with it. He was a good friend – more than that, he was one of those once-in-a-lifetime people, who you are better for having known. And he is missed, both by those of us who lost touch and recently reconnected, and those who were with him from beginning to end.

Bon Voyage. See you on the other side, my friend.

Update : Greg’s best friend Amy (and one of the sweetest people I know) is captaining a team on the Raleigh CF Great Strides Walk. Please take a moment to help support her as she walks for the first time in Greg’s Memory. Thanks!

[1] I still consider 99% of mail clients inferior to DaVinci. I’d LOVE to have the DOS version of DaVinci ported to Linux and the transport migrated to SMTP & IMAP. Just changing the back-end to SMTP & IMAP would make something far superior to Thunderbird, Outlook, and Mail.app. This may have led to my current “all mail clients SUCK” view, since DaVinci eMail spoiled me *EARLY* in my career.

[2] There was a company-mandated Dale Carnegie Customer Service Course a few years later, but for me – and anyone who was mentored by Greg, it was old news.

[3] Also, I’ll admit that my patience wears thin after a time, but in fairness so did his. But I never saw him handle it badly – something I only recently learned to do.

About Kevin Sonney

Kevin Sonney - who, contrary to popular opinion was NOT raised by wolves - grew up in central North Carolina. He fell into the technology field by accident in 1991, when he gave up the wild and crazy lifestyle of an on-air AM radio DJ to become a mundane technical support monkey. The technology industry has never really recovered from this. Kevin has worked for such names as IBM, Red Hat, webslingerZ, and Lulu Technologies (we won't mention the ones that didn't survive the experience). He currently works as a Linux Administrator for Apptio. In his spare time he rescues stray animals and plays video games with his two sons. His wife, we're sad to say, helps him get past the really hard bits. Kevin is still not very mundane, he just got better at hiding it.
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