Bill Kennedy, in Memoriam

If you ever setup a Usenet node or a uucp connection (a predecessor to the Internet) in this state, then you probably know Bill. In fact, you probably called on him for assistance.

There are two things I learned from Bill. The first was how to be a consultant. We first met in 1989, when I was contemplating a move to Austin. He was then contracting at IBM. I was asking around how to break into the business, and somebody told me that I ought to talk to this Bill guy. I dropped him an email out of the blue, and, sure enough, he invited me to lunch and patiently took all my stupid newbie questions. Bill was that way, always generous with his time and his words. Sometimes maybe too generous with his words, but we'll get to that in a moment.

I learned more about writing from Bill than all my teachers put together. My proposals and reports were always the better for his review and editing. Each time that I properly use that instead of which, I'll remember Bill. In those months when things were looking terribly tight and I needed a few hours more work to make the rent, somehow Bill would come up with a report which that needed some work.

The second thing I learned from Bill was how to listen to a Texan. Bill was a native Texan. I'd been in Dallas less than three years when we met. I'd never before met anybody who said things like "so dumb he couldn't pour piss out of a boot" or "bad breath is better than no breath" in the course of normal conversation. At some point I noticed the stories he told often had been told before, but somehow they got bigger and grander with age.

A true story of my own that I'm going to tell on Bill: we were traveling from Austin to Bandera. I forget why, probably either to work on a project, or to drink beer and pretend we were working on a project. I was snoozing. The cat was in the back seat, barfing up in his travel container. I was startled awake with a loud thud! I looked over to Bill, and he said, "A deer just ran into us" and drove on. He insisted it wasn't we who hit the deer, the damn thing just up and dove through the grill.

Bill was a Byte magazine-era computer hacker. I'm disappointed there isn't a little more of Bill on the net. There ought to be. Makes me realize how little of our computing history is available online. Lots of stuff on him in the Google Groups archive, but not the web. I see a bunch of his terribly offensive jokes are still available in the rec.humor.funny archive.

Thanks, Bill.



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re: Bill Kennedy, in Memoriam

Dear Chip,

You don't know me but I am a very dear friend of Jean, Bill's wife. In fact, we were roommates in college. I want to thank you for this wonderful article about Bill. Jean had told me all about Bill for many years. I met him only once; soon after they were married. Our Brunch was that much more enjoyable because of the many stories he told. He was a very funny man. But for me ... he was the man who loved my good friend with all his heart and she loved him right back.


re: Bill Kennedy, in Memoriam

Bill and I became friends in 1958. I never knew a guy who could sing so many Tom Lehrer and Oscar Brand songs. Nobody loved one of his jokes as much as he did.....the second or third time either.
It was a treat to have known him and he'll be missed around here.

re: Bill Kennedy, in Memoriam

I have known Bill since the mid 60's when were bothe fresh out of the USN. Over the years Bill and I shared a lot, in fact when I moved to Tx I lived with bill in Farmersville, next to Ed he town postmaster. We spent many night drinking, building computes (Altair 8080, Imsi etc) and writing software.

Bill is a true friend ( I refuse to think of him in the past tense.) If you are intersted in a lot of Kennedy stories just drop me a line and I will send a ton. By the way, any knowledge of H.Berry Merrill, another old USN friend of Bill's last known to be inhabiting the Dallas area and working for Sun, driving the State Dept nutz and anyone with a ham radio as well.

For an interesting insight into Bill there is an artical on the net he wrote about his Dad, General Kennedy and be found by a "goggle search for William L Kennedy."

By the way bad breath is better than none was one we dreamed up and used all he dammed time. The use of 'that' vs. 'which' was one Kennedy nailed me on all the dammed time. As a Liberal Arts grad I thought I could write until subjected to Bill's editorial pen.

Bill will be missed.

Jim Wells