Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gene Golovchinsky: A Celebration of his Life

Please join us as we gather to remember Gene and celebrate his life.

Saturday, September 7 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Women's Club of Palo Alto
475 Homer Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301

If you wish to attend, please RSVP here. One this page there is an opportunity to sign up to bring a needed item to the event.

If you would like an opportunity to speak, accommodations or participate in other ways, please send an email to gene.golovchinsky@gmail.com.

Please note that this will be an event intended for adults.

Another photo

Gene and Eric Belle

If you want to share photos of Gene, please send them to gene.golovchinsky@gmail.com

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mentions of Gene

Gene is remembered by many. Here are some mentions we are aware of:

Please let us know if you come across any other mentions so we can collect them here.

Eulogy delivered by Mark Chignell and Shumin Zhai at Gene’s funeral, August 19, 2013

Mark Chignell: It is with heavy heart, but happy memories that we offer up a few words on this sad occasion. Today we lay to rest a son, a friend, a colleague, a father, a husband and a very unique person. When I first met him he was a twenty-something electrical engineer from UCLA in my Human Factors class at USC and he had an opinion on everything. He was very clever and very intense. He moved to Toronto to work with me when I got a job there and I was honored to supervise his Ph.D. He was the backbone of my lab for several years and I can still remember the soulful trumpet of Miles Davis playing in the lab when he was working late.

Shumin Zhai: Thank you all for coming to this very special although tragic event. We all feel this should not have happened to someone who is so young, so full of ideas, energy and indeed life, someone with such a lovely young child Theo and a wonderful wife Jill, and loving parents, as well as many friends like us who admired his character, intelligence, and wit and viewed him as an important part of our lives. Like you I am still in shock and find it incomprehensible. But let’s not dwell on the tragedy and let’s remember what an amazing person Gene was.

Mark: Gene could be very stubborn, and he loved to argue. He was also a loyal and decent person who was devoted to his parents, as they were to him. I believe that Gene would have made an excellent university professor but his career led elsewhere. He had a very successful research career at FXPAL and it is fitting that FXPAL closed at 2pm today so that his colleagues could be here.

Shumin: As a close friend for 20+ years, many images and episodes come to my mind whenever I think of Gene. One of the first things that come to my mind is Gene’s character. He is someone who I felt I could always trust and considered him a true friend in every sense of the word, and I am sure it is a feeling shared by many others. Because of his character I enjoyed every moment I fortunately had with Gene even when he was blunt and direct, or if we disagreed about something. Gene had my deepest respect because how sincerely he treated people and his friends and how loving he was towards his wife, son and the other family members.

Mark: We both admired Gene’s great taste in the arts, music, photography, food and wine. Gene was also a chess player, and a jazz lover. He loved to make outrageous puns. As a photographer he was an artist, originally specializing in black and white but Jill persuaded Gene to switch to color for the sake of the baby photos after Theo was born. Gene was also a loving family man. My son Ken is the same age as Theo and when they were babies Gene gave me a copy of the lovely book Goodnight Moon, which I read to Ken many times.

Shumin: Gene was full of charisma, humor and wit. His witty remarks often stuck in my head for a long time, some for many years and some forever. (Shumin continues): Of course, a big part of Gene’s life was about his work. Needless to say he accomplished a great deal in research, ranging from his pioneering work in creating unique tablet experiences, much of it is still to be adopted in the commercial world, to information retrieval with deep human factors considerations. He is one of the creators and leaders in a field now known as HCIR which combines Human-Computer Interaction and Information Retrieval. You can see Gene’s wit in the acronym HCIR. In fact Gene is well known as HCIR_Gene in twittersphere.

Mark: Gene was an excellent researcher and he was extremely competent at many things. He could often finish a project in the time that most people would take to start planning it. In recent years he became interested in genealogy and not only did he research the family tree for his own family tree but also for Jill's. Shortly before his untimely death he was at a conference in Utah on genealogy, picking up tips that he could use in his own research on the topic. Gene never stopped living life to the full, right until the end.

Shumin: Gene’s character also comes through in his research life. I have always been impressed by how well Gene could identify other people’s good work and how he appreciated his colleagues’ strength and capabilities, even if they were much less experienced. And indeed I have already read others making similar remarks on the web about how he easygoing and supportive he was towards graduate students and younger researchers he met at conferences.

Mark: Gene was more than a student and a colleague. He was also a good friend, and I'm sure many of you were also enriched by his friendship. Gene did not suffer fools gladly, and he probably wasn't the most diplomatic person you or I have met. But he had a heart of gold.

Shumin: Although his life was far too short, Gene had a great and remarkable life which will continue to inspire many of us in this world. This was what I told him last Thursday when I had a fortunate private moment with him in the last hour of his life. I told him he should be proud of his life.

Mark: We know that Gene had so much more to give, but we hope that in spite of the grief and the regrets that we can also celebrate Gene's life and find support and comfort in sharing our memories of him

Mark and Shumin: Gene, rest in peace. We will miss you.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Celebration of Gene's Life

We are planning a celebration of Gene's life on Saturday, September 7 in the Bay Area. Please contact gene.golovchinsky@gmail.com if you would like to help with this event. More information is available here.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Funeral service

Gene will be buried at Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto on Monday, August 19 at 2:30 pm with a simple graveside service. You are welcome to join the family there and at a reception at Etz Chayim in Palo Alto immediately following the service. The family will be at the reception until about 5 pm.

Alta Mesa Memorial Park
695 Arastradero Rd
Palo Alto, CA 94306

Etz Chayim
4161 Alma Street
Palo Alto, CA

For those of you that have not been to a Jewish burial, here are some guidelines that might be useful.

Attire should be modest, somber and respectful of the occasion. Clothes do not need to be black, and suits are not required. Chose clothing you might wear to court versus the more cheerful attire you might wear to church or a wedding.

This funeral will take place outdoors in the middle of the afternoon, so dress appropriately for the heat and sun. The reception will be in an indoor sanctuary hall.

There is no expectation that people will bring anything to a Jewish funeral. Please do not bring flowers, gifts or food to this event. Cards or photos of Gene are welcome. In lieu of flowers, donations in Gene's memory can be made to Operation Homefront, Gene's favorite charity at the time of his death.

Please note the brief explanation of Jewish mourning traditions.

A Brief Explanation of Jewish Mourning Traditions

For millennia, Jews have found solace and comfort in structured traditions that ease their loss. Traditionally, the first seven days after a burial are the “shiva” mourning period where the family is not expected to participate in regular life obligations. Instead, the community takes care of them and visits their home to pay respects. Just like any religious custom, different cultures, times and families each adapt the traditions to suit their needs.

Jill’s first priority is to help Theo best cope with Gene’s loss. She will be trying to maintain as much normalcy in Theo’s first week of school as possible. She also has a number of family members in from out of town this week.  Once they are gone, her house will be all too quiet.

Jill welcomes anyone who would like to pay their respects to visit her and Theo at their home on Saturday or Sunday, Aug. 24-25 from 1-5pm.

Following are some of the Jewish guidelines that might be helpful:

  • Please wait for the mourners to come to you. It is best to not seek out the mourners when you first arrive, but instead wait until they acknowledge you. Let Jill approach you when she is ready as she may be sharing a private moment with someone else or needing to pull herself together.
  • Keep your greeting brief and simple. It is appropriate to offer a hug and say something such as “I’m sorry for your loss”, or “this must be so difficult for you”, or “I will miss Gene so much.” Let her move on when she needs to and be aware that Jill may want to acknowledge other visitors.
  • Your visit is all about helping the mourners. Please don’t expect that Jill will be able to engage you in the conversation that you need or would like to have about Gene’s death. Realize that Jill will be in shock still, and may be feeling overwhelmed. Don’t take it personally if she isn’t up to talking to you. She may even choose to leave the room and seek solitude. Your presence itself will mean a lot to her.
  • Focus on your experiences with the deceased. Reminisce about fun times you shared with Gene and his family. Talk about funny things that he did. Talk about the contributions he made in his life. Please try to avoid talking about other deaths, other people with the same illnesses, etc.
  • Try not to burden the mourners with your own grief. Gene’s sudden death is horrific to many of us and we are all grieving him. Try not to get so distraught around Jill that she feels the need to console you, or that your tears destroy what self-control she is able to maintain in public. This is especially true when you see her with Theo.
  • A condolence visit is relatively short and informal. Stop by for a half-hour to an hour and let Jill know that you care. You don’t need to dress up or plan on spending the whole afternoon. Families are welcome, especially friends of Theo’s.
  • No gifts, flowers, or food are expected. Your presence is the most important thing. If you like, a card or a photo of Gene would be welcome.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pictures from UCLA days

Top: Germany, 1994; middle: Lake Tahoe in the 90s; bottom: New Year's party at Gene's parents during his UCLA years.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Remembering Gene

We are very sorry to report that Gene Golovchinsky passed away on August 15, 2013 at Stanford Hospital.

He had overcome cancer twice in the last five years and appeared to be in good health. Struggling with what he thought was altitude sickness from a trip to Salt Lake City, he checked in with his doctors who immediately transferred him to Stanford Hospital where he was diagnosed with acute leukemia. His wife Jill and son Theo had been visiting family on the East Coast, but when she heard the news, Jill flew back immediately. Gene and Jill were able to visit briefly in the hospital. Sadly, Gene had a stroke early in the morning of August 14 and passed away peacefully the next day without regaining consciousness.

Gene was a distinguished research scientist, a loving father and husband, and a dear friend to many. He worked at the FX Palo Alto Laboratory as a senior scientist for 17 years. During that time, he led research projects on usable conference rooms, whiteboard capture and retrieval, collaborative data collection systems, web services platforms for mobile computing, distributed annotation systems, and freeform digital ink annotation for tablet computers. One of his last projects focused on complex collaborative information seeking needs such as those that occur during e-discovery, academic research, intelligence analysis, etc.

Gene was passionate about his work. Once he started a project, he would not quit until he achieved success, and even then would want to do more. Gene was active and well respected in the academic community as well as within Fuji Xerox. Gene's hard work led to a number of top quality research papers and commercial products.

Gene received his education at the University of California at Los Angeles with a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering and did graduate research at the University of Toronto, earning a Ph.D. degree in Industrial Engineering.

Gene was an accomplished photographer, he was active on Twitter. He received several awards for his professional work.

Gene had a great sense of humor and quick wit. His taste and judgement in technology, art, culture and even wine and food were admired by many.

We are planning a celebration of his life on Saturday, September 7. Please contact Gene’s friends Bob Dreyer, Manny Noik, or John Doherty if you would like to help with this event.

Lastly, in lieu of flowers, donations in Gene's memory can be made to Operation Homefront, Gene's favorite charity at the time of his death.