IBM i Security Expert John Earl Passes On
January 8, 2013 Alex Woodie
John Earl, an IBM i security expert who was recently the CEO of Townsend Security, passed away last week after a battle with cancer. Earl will be missed by the midrange community, which is encouraged to support his family by donating to a memorial fund in his name.
Earl was many things, including an IBM i security expert, a product developer, an IT business executive, a school volunteer, a poker and wrestling enthusiast, and above all a husband and father. His professional passion was security–specifically, IBM i security. He had the intellect to understand complex security concepts, and the patience and persona to connect those concepts to the people he met.
Earl was a widely respected expert in IBM i security, a field he had worked in for decades. According to Earl’s LinkedIn page, he left college in 1980 to start work as a computer operator at an insurance company in the Seattle, Washington, area. That job was followed by stints with companies in the manufacturing, transportation, financial services, airline, and healthcare industries.
In 1995, he was hired by Recreation Equipment International (REI), where he worked for three years to help secure a network of AS/400s used by the outdoor equipment retailer. A year later, he co-founded Lighthouse Security to capitalize on his AS/400 skills. Lighthouse was acquired by the start-up PowerTech in 1998, where he led the development of the widely successful PowerTech products as its CTO. He was a COMMON director from 2003 to 2005. Following PowerTech’s acquisition by Help/Systems in 2008, Earl joined Townsend Security, where was recently the CEO and president.
Earl stepped down from his post at the Olympia, Washington, company last March following a diagnosis of a brain tumor. Earl fought the disease through several rounds of therapy, and attempted to return to work. In September, his wife Kathy participated in a fund-raising event called the Seattle Brain Cancer Walk to benefit brain cancer research projects. Earl succumbed to his illness on January 3.
Here are some of the things that Earl’s colleagues have shared about him on Earl’s LinkedIn page. “John is a brilliant technician, and at the same time, he is a genuinely fun guy to be around. He has the worst (i.e. best) jokes,” wrote Dan Riehl, president and security specialist, IT Security and Compliance Group. Riehl co-founded PowerTech with Earl.
“John has a special blend of technical savvy and sales skills that make him quite unique. I worked for John for seven years and was impressed with his ability to grasp the details of different technologies and present them to less technical people in a way they could understand,” wrote Nick Blattner, a senior system engineer with PowerTech Group.
“I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with John since 1998. His understanding of iSeries security is the best in the business! His innovative ideas, that were later developed and marketed as the PowerTech Group security products, have given system administrators the world over a set of management tools unsurpassed in our industry. If you want to know anything about iSeries security, talk to John!” wrote Kenneth Graap.
A celebration of life is planned for Earl at Kensington Gardens in Gig Harbor, Washington, on January 13 at 1:30 p.m. PST. Additionally, John’s wife Kathy has shared information about the John Earl Memorial Fund.
“In response to those asking how they can honor John, we have established the John Earl Memorial Fund. Anyone wishing to contribute can do so at any Wells Fargo Bank by mentioning the account name and funds will be directly deposited. Any monies collected will be used by the family to pay down medical expenses and to establish educational funds for Michael and Riley. The Earl family would like to thank all of you for your prayers, words of encouragement, and for sharing your memories of John.”