My plan for this blog was to continue with insightful predictions for insurance IT in 2011, but alas, a terribly sad event here in 2010 must be addressed first. 

A few days ago, several friends contacted me to say that Judy Johnson, lately of Patni Computer Systems, Inc., had passed away due to complications in surgery.   While it is always sad when an industry colleague leaves the planet in an untimely manner, Judy’s passing is particularly poignant to those of us who make our living in the technology space.  She was, quite simply, an icon in our universe. 

I first met Judy some 12 years ago when someone recommended her for a panel I was putting together for one of the industry trade shows.  At that time, she was an analyst with the Meta Group, and when I contacted her, I was expecting more of the same analyst talk I had been hearing for years.  Imagine my surprise when, instead, I was greeted by a bright, enthusiastic and eminently quotable figure whose favorite technical term, I would later learn, was “stupid.” 

For years after her first appearance on one of my panels, I regularly called on Judy to contribute her unassailable expertise, vast knowledge, and wry wit to such events.  Judy offered that rare combination of humor, flash and integrity to all who heard her at conferences, as well as those who read her priceless quotes in the industry media.  As a journalist, I would often delight in playing her off against her then fellow Meta analyst Chuck Johnston, hoping to get them to contradict each other—and sometimes succeeding.  They accepted such occurrences with graceful good humor and, much to my surprise, continued to answer my calls in the future. 

A word about Judy’s favorite technical term as noted above: I can’t remember when she first applied it to some company’s foolish technological behavior, but I do recall that when she seemed at a loss for an apt descriptive term, she finally landed on “stupid!”  This got such a rise out of our seminar audience that it quickly became her stock in trade, and I, for one, couldn’t wait to see who or what would be branded with that particular iron in the future.  Her unique charm, however, was that she could apply that term or similar terms to you or your company and still leave you smiling.  No matter how she berated you, you knew there was a kind heart behind the berating. 

To the many of you who knew and loved Judy as I did, my sincere and heartfelt condolences.  To those of you who never had the pleasure of meeting or hearing Judy, well, you really missed something special.  God doesn’t make too many like our Judy, but we can be thankful for her wonderful contributions to our industry—for an inspiring idea, a new insight, and—always—a chuckle or two. 

Time will roll on and others will take up the task of elucidating, inspiring and tickling the funny bone.  But to say that Judy Johnson will be sorely missed is surely a grandiose understatement.  She was a wonderful friend and a fabulous colleague.  May she rest in peace. 

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