This page is for us as community to remember members of ISSS and also to recognize individuals who have made a significant contribution to the field of systems.
John Friend - died 2022
From: Gerald R Midgley <G.R.Midgley@hull.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2022, 3:35 pm
I am writing to pass on the sad news that John Friend, who was a Visiting Professor with our Centre for Systems Studies until relatively recently, has passed away at the age of 92. He died peacefully yesterday lunchtime.
Many of you will know John as the person who developed Strategic Choice, which was one of a small handful of approaches that stimulated a paradigm change in operational research in the 1970s and 1980s. When John first proposed Strategic Choice, it was after several years of careful observation of policymaking in Coventry Council, including many dialogues between policymakers and researchers. He set out to improve policy processes based on enhancing what people already do, rather than trying to impose something entirely new, which enabled significant take-up of the approach. This was a new innovation back in 1973 – and even today, people rarely take as much care as John did to engage with policymakers before they propose policy-process enhancements.
John came to us as a Visiting Professor after a long correspondence with me in my role of co-editor of the 2004 Community Operational Research book. I had asked John to write a chapter, and he initially had doubts because I had put “OR and Systems Thinking” in the subtitle. John had started his career in the OR group at the Tavistock Institute, and he was critical of the work of Emery and Trist (who were also based there) for taking a systems approach. He said that, if you take an open systems perspective, it encourages you to only look at stable, formally-constituted organizations, and then you miss the potential for working with transitory alliances collaborating across organizational boundaries, or with communities who have no formal organizations at all. His belief at that time was that OR should resist taking a systems approach. I agreed with him that the open systems ideas from the 60s and 70s were problematic in this way, but argued that we had successfully dealt with the problem through our understanding of boundary critique. I will never forget John’s open-minded attitude in this exchange, even though he had strong feelings about open systems theory: we came to a joint realization that what he called “working with selectivity” and what I called “boundary critique” were pointing in the same direction, and as a result he not only wrote a chapter for our book (which was focused on working with selectivity), but also accepted the invitation from our Centre for Systems Studies to be a Visiting Professor here.
John was a great critical friend to our research group, and will be sadly missed.
Mick Ashby 1963 - October 2022. Active ISSS member, he gave several presentations on Ethics over the last five years. Member of See the System group. Grandson of Ross Ashby. Curator of the Ashby archives, now hosted by ISSS at https://ashby.info
Klaus Krippendorf 1932-2022 Gregory Bateson professor for Cybernetics, Language, and Culture at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication Obituary Wikipedia Entry
(notice from Gerald Midgely)
4 Aug 2021 From Cecily Wallis:
I am heartbroken to inform you that my wonderful, loving and brilliant husband Steven passed away on July 29, 2021. He fought the brave fight against metastatic uveal melanoma but there is no cure for this rare and aggressive disease.
As I searched his computer for names of professional and academic contacts, I came across a file that entitled "upon my untimely demise death" (created in January 2020, long before his cancer diagnosis!) with some contact information and a request to send this to you:
It was a pleasure to know and work with you! Please encourage your students, colleagues (and, yourself) to advance our work in developing more useful theories and policies for the betterment of humankind.
Many of my partially completed works (or passing thoughts) may be found in files titled “write on” or “working on it.” Please excavate and share.
Many Thanks and Excelsior!
Well, of course he left some information for me to go on! The files he refers to are on his computer... If you are interested, please contact me.
To close, I want to thank you all for being a part of Steven's life! I am so happy he had a community of intelligent, creative, and intellectually stimulating people to feed and nurture his insatiable brain and unending quest for knowledge.
All the best to all of you in the future,
I am a new member in ISSS, and have already heard a lot of great things about James, I was considering to get in touch with him about his work on living systems, sadly I missed my chance, none the less, I feel his work will be one of the great influencers in my path in system science, I pray for peace to him and his loved one,
Jim Simms felt a very strong alliance with James G. Miller, one of the original ISSS Founders. He contributed for several years to Miller’s Living Systems Theory. He told me many times that he was very proud that Miller wrote the Forward to his book, titled “Principles of Quantitative Living Systems Science.” With the passing of Jim Simms, we lost a very persuasive contributor to the science of systemness or systems science as an alternative and complementary approach to systems thinking. He made a decade-long effort to bring more quantitative brilliance (the cgs, centimeter/gram/second system) to LST and to GST in general. Simms also was a very engaged pilot flying himself and companion Ellis Gillis to several ISSS Conferences even in his nineties. He flew, for example, to Vienna and the annual meetings in Corvallis, Oregon where I saw him last. His girl friend would often go on side trips with my wife and so we would hang out together for our annual wine tasting. I will miss his young enthusiasm for scientific pursuit of GST and flying. Please note that his degree was a B.S. in Engineering Physics and he was a UFO (United Flying Octagenarian) even into his nineties.
Dr. Len Troncale
I had the highest regard for Jim. We met at the conference in Crete a while ago.I tried to get in touch with his work by reading much of it soon after and then actually went to visit him at his home in Fulton.though his work was the centre of his life he was a fun guy.he and his partner of recent years frequently went ballroom dancing and he took part in a dancing workshop at the Washington conference even though it was not his natural habitat.he also had a wicked sense of human and we shared several evening with Eddie at a number of conferences over the years in Europe as well as USA.I will miss him greatly. Sincerely, Dennis.
My condolences to his family and friends. I spent many happy days at conferences with Jim and remember his gentle humour and wisdom with fondness. We had fun getting lost at a train station in Japan en route to a meeting. We laughed and laughed together. We experienced being presented matching fans by complete strangers on the train ( who took pity on us) and presented the fans as they stepped off the train, bowing to us - so gracious. It was the anniversary of Hiroshima - quite special - I still have the fan and the memories.
With every good wish Janet McIntyre
I knew Jim Simms from isss conferences and had many discussions with him, he was an extremely nice person !!!!!!!
I am sad to hear his passing and sympathies to his relatives
Very sorry to hear this. We used to have long discussions whenever we met.
I have attended many of his Living systems workshops and enjoyed it very much. He was also very gracious and gave me many of his books.
He will be missed.
Mary Catherine Bateson 1939 - 2 January 2021
From Nora Bateson post on Facebook:
My big sister. My beautiful, brilliant big sister. I would not be me if it weren't for her.
On Saturday, January 2, Mary Catherine Bateson died holding the hand of her daughter. She had been home for the last six months with her grandchildren.
Her life has been an inspiration to so many people. Her work, her mind, her heart... all brought great rigor and warmth to this world. I have such memories... and tears, and gratitude.
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Mary Catherine Bateson was a speaker at ISSS in Berlin. She joined in many conversations with ISSS members during a memorable week in Berlin.
Jocelyn Chapman suggested this link as a tribute
This interview from On Being:
Charles Bocage died of a heart attack on August 21, 2020.
Charles was a regular contributor to the early Saturday online ISSS SIG Sessions. His last ISSS conference was Corvallis 2019. He was a member of the Science, Spirituality and Systems Science SIG and the Systems and Mental Health SIG. Here is a video recording of the graduate student Charles Bocage at ISSS Corvallis 2019
He was a consultant specializing in human resources, specifically employee selection, strategic planning, financial management, personality assessment and academic and career advising. He had an impressive background that spanned leadership in the US Military with responsibility for operations and deployment of over 240,000 servicemen and women and 6,000 aircraft and ships throughout the Pacific and East Africa. He served in executive administrative positions with leading academic institutions. While Director of the Hawaii Technology Institute, he revolutionized the curriculum by developing a state of the art, technology based, Career Development Program which provided students with the skills to obtain careers after graduation at a 95% employment outcome. The Career Development Program was widely recognized and praised by the Accrediting Commission resulting in an astounding initial five-year accreditation appointment. His doctoral studies at Saybrook University were related to improving leadership within the family, specifically foster parent training by demystifying spirituality. Up until he died he wanted to provide a structure to increase the success of trauma mediation using secular spirituality techniques such as mindfulness meditation and yoga.
Peter Caws May 25, 1931 - April 20, 2020 President SGSR/ISSS
Jack Ring peacefully passed away on April 22nd, 2020, at the age of 85 in Mesa, AZ after a hard battle with liver cancer. Jack has been an active supporter of Systems Science development. He contributed to the joint programs between ISSS and INCOSE. Up until weeks before his death he was participating in online meetings with joint ISSS and INCOSE members to develop a proposed ISO standard "Do No Harm". He was a keen supporter of the Systems Literacy Initiative. He worked with Derek Caberra educating K-12 students on systems concepts and approaches. Jack was a member of ISSS. He recently authored a Technical Report for INCOSE entitled "About Intelligent Enterprises:A Collection of Knowledge Claims" available from the INCOSE website.
From Len Troncale. Past-President and fomer Executive Director ISSS "he was always on the alert for bringing in new, younger voices that might have something to contribute. What will we do without him? I will very much miss his stimulating challenges and his sponsorship. Jack, despite his challenges, was a very loving and giving person. We are a little bit less a people with his passing."
He was born in St John, Kansas on April 14th, 1935, also known as Black Sunday. He is survived by his wife, Mary Lou, whom he resided with in Gilbert, AZ; his sister, Barbra Atterbery from Tribune, KS; his son, Jordan Ring from Glendale, AZ; his daughter, Kelly Ring Orosy from Krum, TX; and his stepchildren and grandchildren. Jack graduated from St John High School and Emporia State College, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. Jack had a passion for Science and Technology and was a member of several professional societies, including MENSA and INCOSE. Jack volunteered many hours as a mentor to his peers, and served as Board and Council members for numerous organizations, including The University of Advancing Technology and Starshine Academy. In his later years, he devoted his time to researching how people think and learn, and worked to create a new teaching pedagogy to enhance the K-12 educational system. He always had a love for red corvettes and racing cars, but nothing compared to his love for his wife, Mary Lou and his children. Jack will be remembered for his kind heart, eccentric style, and superior intellect. He was greatly loved and is greatly missed.
Prof. Enrique Herrscher