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"Hi. I'm Art Klee. Welcome to SORC. Are you of German descent?"
It was 1969 and my first meeting with the Systems Objectives Review Committee (SORC). Seven members of industry, academia and government met about every other month in IBM's development centers across the country to review new product plans and provide feedback to mid-level managers and vice presidents. I was 25 years old and Art (40?), along with others, mentored and helped make me look like I belonged plus had something to contribute.
Truth-be-told, we were an irreverent group; prone to be dismissive of poorly thought-out ideas. We authored what were called SORCisms; nonsensical sayings such as: “It’s not as too late now as it will be later” and “build me a printer with cut-paper in and fanfold out”. I believe it was Art who coined: “When the tip of the spear reaches the vitals, the length of its shaft and the method of application are no longer important” – a quote that has appeared in my writing lots of times over the years. Many a product manager felt the bite of our (misplaced?) wit.
We pranked each other. With one team member who always ordered his steak “raw, with a capital R”, Art conspired with me to see that he was served a t-bone straight from the freezer with a layer of frost on the top. He once kept me distracted while another of us dropped his pipe-tamping galvanized nail into the Rusty Nail drink I ordered. After I saw my first Mercedes 280SL, Art dismissively informed me it was $6,500 a seat (!!!) and I couldn’t afford it. Broke my heart.
I eventually was forced to resign from SORC by the company I worked for. In so many instances like this, you forget each other. But, we did not and for 45 years Christmas cards crossed in the mail (thank you Irmgard) and visits occurred if Kathie and I were in the area. Later in life, Art continued to instruct me with such sage advice as it is OK to spend an obscene amount on a cruise if it was the right cruise. I am a better man for his friendship. Be at peace, Art.