This week has been a difficult one for OCLC staff. On Monday, August 18, 2008, our friend and colleague, Gary R. Houk passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
A person widely respected, liked and admired by his colleagues, Gary started at OCLC in 1974 as a programmer/analyst and held many technical leadership roles, rising through the ranks to senior management and serving over his career at OCLC as Vice President, Member Services, later as Vice President, Cataloging and Metadata Services, and most recently as Vice President, Corporate Information Technology and Business Integration.
Despite challenges with chemotherapy treatments and the reduced mobility associated with his medical condition over the last year and half, Gary -- as was his nature -- did not let his illness deter him from being an active and engaged leader at OCLC nor did he permit his illness to deny him the pleasure of taking part in his daughter’s wedding.
For myself, many of my colleagues, Gary’s family, and his numerous friends who attended a memorial service today at a local church, it was comforting to be reminded of Gary’s warmth, charm, good-humor, and his life’s love (his wife, Randi), his life’s joy (his daughter, Shannon), his love of family, his loyalties (Gary was a graduate and life-long supporter of The Ohio State University), his passions (his work at OCLC and his passion for the game of golf), his public-spiritedness (Gary served on many local civic and business organizations in Dublin), and his personal faith.
Described during the memorial service as a “larger-than-life” figure who leaves a larger-than-life hole in the fabric of the lives of those around him, Gary was for the many of us who had the pleasure to work for and with him over these many years, a reliable, ever-present, ever-well-informed, favored colleague and friend, a man with a keen mind, quick wit, the patience to give all ideas and concerns a fair hearing, and the generalship to get things done. As
In his message to OCLC staff on Monday, Jay Jordan called Gary Houk “an exceptional colleague and leader who contributed greatly to OCLC’s success.” I know
That I and my fellow IAGers, and all of our colleagues at OCLC shall miss
Links related to Gary Houk:
- Gary's WorldCat Identities page (Gary R. Houk)
- Gary Houk’s obituary in the Columbus Dispatch
- More (Google Books snippet) about Gary's career in his own words in Contemporary Chief Information Officers: Management Experiences (Hershey, PA: IGI Pub.), 2007