When I was doing my doctorate in security I used to attend or give papers at the IEEE Computer Security Foundations Workshop (http://www.ieee-security.org/CSFWweb/) which was held in a lovely old hotel in Franconia, NH. This was a really small gathering of people deeply involved the theory of securing computers.
Bob Morris and his wife Anne used to attend each year. It was unusual for people to bring their loved ones to this gathering and having the two of them there gave a certain holiday like atmosphere to the whole affair.
He was a gentleman and very kind to me as a young graduate student and I remember well playing games in the hotel grounds with him and Anne. At the time he was Chief Scientist at the NSA and the Rainbow books had been produced under his gaze. But he was humble, approachable and helpful.
The first Java program I remember writing was something that generated the "Robert Morris Sequence" -- the number sequence that Robert Morris Sr. gave to Cliff Stoll, which Stoll referenced in chapter 48 of the Cuckoo's Egg:
It's a poignant reminder of just how young our field is that we are mourning the loss of some true early pioneers. Imagine if you were a physicist just learning of the passing of Newton? It's also a reminder to value the experience and wisdom of those who are still here with us...
I don't know what to say. I'm just one of many strangers who knew of
your dad, and appreciated his work, but never had the pleasure of
actually meeting him. I'm sure there are a lot of strangers like me who
feel uncomfortable saying anything more than offering condolences but
also feel offering condolences is not enough. We wish there was more we
could do. I hope by stating this difficulty for strangers, you are
reminded of how amazingly lucky and blessed you are to have known him.
You will always remember your loss, but it equally important to also
remember your luck. I hope the warm thought of counting your blessings
will help you and your family through the troubled times.
It's important to pause now and then to recall what a glorious time we live in, where we are alive at the same moment as so many other great human beings. Some in technology. Some in humanitarian works. Some in music. Even if they're near the end of their time here, that you and I existed on this ball of rock at the same time they walked it is pretty fantastic.
I don't think anything I write can relieve rtm and his family's pain now. All I can hope is they take comfort in the thought that the pain will fade and what will remain are teh memories of an extraordinary man, and that nothing will take those away.