We're here today because we were touched by Jeri, usually in some very special way. It never took too long for people who met her--even briefly--to realize that this was a very special woman. She was lively and lovable with a great sense of humor. But you could also sense her inner strength--she was one tough cookie. Like you, I was touched by this beautiful person. I met her in 1979. I was a happy thirty-year old bachelor then, but I knew I had found a gem. So after our first encounter, we became totally inseparable for the next thirty years. It's almost like we were fused together--she was my lover, coauthor, partner, and best friend. We decided early on not to have children. We wanted to live for one another until death did us apart. We were very possessive of our time together. I can't tell you how much I miss her. She's left a huge hole in my heart. But, I also think I'm the luckiest man to have lived on this planet because of the thirty blissful years I had with her--what a gift she was. I would like to share a few things about Jeri to give you a better sense for who she is. Jeri was born in Los Angeles in 1952. She was adopted when she was four days old by a relatively poor family. She faced some very big challenges in her early life but somehow managed to bootstrap herself out of it. She became a born-again Christian and even went on a mission in El Salvador--I guess, to convert the catholics there :-). She was so poor, that at times she didn't have a nickel to take the bus to her work as a file clerk for the IRS, in downtown Oakland. There was a lot of pressure for her to get married early to get out of her predicament. Instead, Jeri managed to work her way through school. By the time I met her (in a bookstore/coffee shop), she had earned a BA in psychology. Luckily for me, she was also dating guys and was not into religion any longer. I found out she was a great Belly Dancer, which was her hobby then (but I didn't know it when I met her). She made her own costumes and danced at clubs accompanied by some very talented musicians and bands. We were both in the computer industry in the early Silicon Valley days. After we teamed up, Jeri got her Master's Degree in Cybernetic Systems. I helped her work on her thesis for the next two years, and it became the basis for everything we accomplished later in our professional lives--we had developed a model for computer software to communicate intelligently over networks. We spent the next twenty years developing this vision into a reality--it is now part of the Worldwide Web (no, we did not invent the Internet :-)). In Silicon Valley, Jeri joined many exciting startups--including Rolm, Tandem Computers, and BEA Systems. She was a good techie who at one time managed hundreds of the best programmers in the Valley. These highly individualistic and talented people learned how to respect Jeri and accept her leadership-- even though she was a woman in what was then, mostly, a male-only industry. She was a natural leader because of her great personality. She really cared about people and knew how to turn out some great products. She also knew how to market her products. In my opinion, she was a genius-- very smart, well-rounded, and multi-talented. I wasn't the only one thinking this; she was named Silicon Valley Woman of the Year in the early 90s.
At one point, Jeri and I decided we would give back some of the knowledge we had gained. We would write books that explained our vision and help a new generation of programmers understand this esoteric technology. She became my coauthor along with Dan Harkey. Jeri insisted that we write in a very friendly style to make the technology accessible. We used cartoons of Martians and simple terminology to explain some very difficult stuff--like the mission-critical software that runs the banks, stockmarkets, and telephone companies. These are programs that can't fail. To my surprise, our books became bestsellers. Our Client/Server and Java books sold over a million copies. In the last two years of our professional life, Jeri and I went on two world tours promoting the technologies in our books. We were surprised by how famous we were everywhere--our books had been translated into twenty seven languages. We had a great time on the road with the "Jeri and Robert Show." And, as you would expect, Jeri was a very articulate and expressive speaker--the audiences loved her from Beijing to Stockholm. At the end of our last world tour, we decided that Hawaii was the most beautiful place on this earth (we also loved the Greek islands where we did a lot of our writing, but only in the summers). Because of what we did, we could move anywhere, so we decided to make Hawaii home. We knew we could write here because we had worked on several books on the ocean front at Waimanalo. In July, 1998, we packed our stuff and moved to Kailua. We were in heaven. Unfortunately, Jeri got diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer shortly after. Most of you here, met Jeri during her heroic fight with the cancer. I can tell you that we were very lucky to be here in Hawaii during this trying time. We had three things that helped Jeri live nearly ten years after her diagnosis when the average for this cancer is only two. First, there was a great medical team--including Dr Keith Terada her world-class oncologist (with help from Kim), her very caring nurses like Paul, Michelle, Sandy, and Phyllis who helped her through chemo, and later the hospice people at St. Francis (Dr Lee, Nicole, Judith, Jeff, Danny, and many others). Second, Jeri discovered the healing power of the ocean in Hawaii. Finally, she loved the people of Hawaii and she became a Hawaiian at heart (she constantly studied the history, music, literature, and the ocean culture). Early on, Jeri decided to fight the cancer using three principles:
1) Fight the cancer very aggressively--she had three operations and nine years of chemo (a world record) 2) Live every day to the fullest 3) Leave the rest to fate The ocean was very good to Jeri. At first, she tip-toed her way into the water by walking the beach and then swimming, snorkeling and canoeing. Next, she discovered body boarding and became a wall rat. Finally, she graduated to surfing. Jeri was always very passionate about whatever she did and surfing became her greatest passion. She loved her board, surf locker, and the local surfers at Canoes. Jeri had many teachers who taught her how to surf--including most of the beach boys and lifeguards of Waikiki and the people at the surf rack. Thank you Tommy, Robert, Daniel and Auntie Pat for carrying her board when she was too weak. Thank you Kealihi for towing her after a bad chemo. Jeri always wanted to know more and she was not afraid to ask questions. I thank many of you here for teaching her. You helped her become a good surfer at the age of 50. She was even able to win fourth place in China's contest for her division. Most importantly, it helped her fight her cancer and maintain that incredible spirit that we all love. Jeri lived long enough to see the first summer swell in mid-June, 2009. We rented a room in the Moana from which she could say goodbye and wave to many of you, while you were catching these big waves (her girlfriends--Kathy and Deborah--even kept her feet dipped into ocean water they brought into the room). Now, Jeri wants you all to keep on surfing for her. Her ashes will be with us forever in the waters of Waikiki. We will be with Jeri when we swim or surf. Also, Jeri will be in very good company in this sacred spot of ocean-- she will be with the great surfers and beach boys of the past. So please let's take her ashes to the ocean where she belongs.