Remembering Charlie Bender, 1940 - 2007
Charlie Bender, my long time boss and friend passed
at 10am on October 25, 2007 at Presbyterian Hospital, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
I first met Charlie (if you hear someone call him Charles, then you can
be sure that this person did not know Charlie), where he was a Director
of Advanced Computational Methods Center at the University of Georgia
at Athens, GA. It was 1987 and I was looking for some serious position
being a postdoc at the Department of Computer Science at Washington
University in St. Louis. While I had an outstanding offer from a major American
pharmaceutical company (i.e., at that time stability and prosperity)
Charlie charmed me. While it cost me money, I decided to
turn down the pharma offer, and I do not regret it at all.
Maybe I would be rich and powerful (the company is doing quite well)
but I am not sure I would be that satisfied and happy.
I was about to move to Athens, but
Charlie called me, and said: Wait a bit longer... We may have
a better opportunity.... And then it was... He became a Director
of the newly established Ohio Supercomputer Center in Columbus, Ohio.
While ACMC at UGA was a great place and for a computational
chemist this place offers a chance to interact with the best of the best
the OSC, as supercomputing is concerned, was simply a different
order of magnitude. In August 1988 I moved to Columbus to join Charlie.
And I was doing important and useful things for many years to come.
And I could even interact with people at UGA from Columbus
since Charlie let it happen by telling them: Jan is a very
good guy and this started a great collaboration.
People reflect on his contributions, but for me,
he was an inspiration. I am not good in writing CVs, even for
myself, but luckily I could find an overview of Charlie's career
from the brochure printed on the occasion of his
Distinguished Alumni Award at the University of Pacific
that you will find at the end of this page. Here I just want to share
a few of my personal thoughts. Charlie saw things earlier, further and wider,
and he had a gift of making you try and take a challenge. With him it was not
just work it was an adventure. And this is how the CCL
was born, for example.
I initially thought about a help desk for computational
chemists that used our Supercomputer Center. And he said:
Why? Go Global, Go Internet!
It is a future! Look what the CERN guys are doing! And I did...
He was my boss, but he was my friend. He did not ask me what I done this
week. I wanted to tell him what I done this week. Was he a Perfect
Manager? Director? Person? No... Did he contribute more than many
Perfect Managers, Directors, Persons? Yes, he did.... People
around him got wings... His ideas are behind so many initiatives
in Ohio and USA, and even further, but he did not sign his name under
most of them. A joy that he inspired people to do something new
was for him much more important than to rubber stamp it.
He also was a perfect match maker and brought together many
people who did not even know that they work on the same problem but
from different ends. But now he is gone... I got last email from him
in mid September, with a subject MEDICAL TEST with three
funny images and the text:
STARE INTO THE CAT'S EYES (for 10 seconds)
[1st image of the cat]
Then Scroll Down
NOW STARE IN THE PUPPY'S EYES FOR 10 SECONDS...
[2nd image of the nice sad Labrador puppy dog]
Your CAT SCAN
and LAB TESTS
are now complete
[3rd image of a laughing kitty]
Sorry -- couldn't resist...
And this was his way to say: Sorry Jan... Have to go...
And when I tried to call him on his cell, I did not hear his:
Yellow... Charlie speaking.... He was in and out from the
hospital and surgery but he lost this last battle...
The CASC (Coalition of Academic Scientific
Computation), whose Charlie
was a founding chairman, established a Scholarship in Memory of Charlie
The donations (tax-deductible) will be used to cover the expenses of students
to attend Supercomputing conferences. Please help to continue the work that
Charlie excelled: inspire people and send your contribution.
Checks should be made payable to CASC with a notation on the check
indicating the donation is for the Charlie Bender Scholarship Fund.
You may mail checks directly to Jack at the following address:
Jack Hoskins, CPA, Inc.
415 E. Broad Street, Suite 111
Columbus, OH 43215
On November 28, 2007 his friends met at the Ohio
Supercomputer Center to remember Charlie. Dr. Dick Pritchard proposed
that we follow the tradition of Irish Wake:
The traditional Irish Wake was commonplace around Ireland up until
about the 1970's. This was the process of Laying out the body of a
departed relative in the house where they lived and /or died. All of the
family and quite a few of the deceased ones neighbors and friends would
gather at the house. The body was usually in a coffin in the parlour of
the house or living room. There would be lots of food and plenty of drink
to be consumed. People would come and socialize and remember the departed
person's life. This wasn't a time for tears to say the least, it was more
of a party than a funeral. It was the traditional Irish way of
celebrating one's life and ensuring that they had a good send off. A
proper Irish Wake is worth the time and effort required to return to the
old customs. It is hard to imagine a passing being complete without one!
We had a chance to relive the moments and shared funny stories
about Charlie. This is how he would want it. We also shared photos.
Some of them you can see below by clicking on thumbnails:
They are unordered
and do not have legends, but you will see Charlie, since he is
the one who smiles (or looks like an IBM salesman from
the 60-ties to make you laugh, since this is a Cray XMP).
If you want to contribute a picture of Charlie,
or your memory, please send it to me, and I will put it here.
From the brochure: The Forty-Fifth Annual
Distinguished Alumni Award, University of the Pacific, Stockton Campus,
Friday, October 18, 2002
Dr. Charles Bender has dedicated a lifetime of service
to furthering the research and development of high performance computing
and networking and its application to business and education. He also
helped facilitate communication between research organizations in business,
industry and education. The Pacific Alumni Association honors Dr. Bender
for his contributions with the Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional
Dr. Bender is (unfortunately, he no longer is...)
the director of the Computational Sciences and Mathematics Division of the
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
After graduating from the Pacific with a bachelor's in chemistry and then
master's in atomic physics, Dr. Bender went on to receive a Ph.D. in
physical chemistry from the University of Washington. He did postdoctoral
work in theoretical chemistry at Battelle Memorial Institute, in
Columbus, Ohio, in 1968.
In 1971, he accepted a position at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories,
where he was asked to do groundbreaking work estimating the life
expectancy of country's current nuclear weapons stockpile. He attained
to the position of head of the Chemistry and Materials Science Department,
which is a large department of 400 employees that supports the internal
laboratory, as well as self-generated externally funded programs.
Dr. Bender took on the position of head of Advanced Computing Methods
Center at the University of Georgia in 1985, where he later attained
the position of associate vice president for Research. While at the
University of Georgia, Dr. Bender developed a technology outreach program
through the University of Georgia Research Corporation, which he also
In 1988, Dr. Bender moved to the Ohio State University, where his
career-shaping work would take place. He took the position of the first
director of the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), a shared statewide
resource funded by the State of Ohio Board of Regents. Its goal was to
support academic and industrial research throughout Ohio developing
a statewide communication system, and developing and distributing
high performance computing services and facilities.
Dr. Bender lead OSC's growth from a fledgling state supercomputer
facility to a dynamic, national high-performance computing, networking
and policy institution. Dr. Bender provided the vision and direction to OSC,
linking the computing and networking worlds with universities, government
and industry. He has been the force behind OSC's collaborative efforts with
the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense's High Performance
Computing Modernization Program, the Internet 2 Project, and several
departments within the State of Ohio. In 1987, OSC had a state
appropriation of $2 million; in fiscal year 2002, OSC's total budget
exceeds $26 million.
OSC was combined with Academic Computing in 1994, and Dr. Bender
was named head of the new larger Academic Technology Services at
Ohio State University. He served in this position until moving to his
current position in 2001.
In addition to his extensive professional work, Dr. Bender has served
on numerous government review and advisory committees, including those
for the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Defense,
the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and the National
Science Foundation. Dr. Bender also founded the Coalition of Academic
Scientific Computation, connecting four supercomputing centers from
around the nation for exchanging ideas and works in progress.
In 1996, President Clinton named Dr. Bender the academic director
for the Department of Defense's High Performance Computing
Modernization Program located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
in Dayton. He currently (unfortunately,
not currently) serves on the Advisory Board of Wright
State University Technology Research Institute, the Board of
Directors for the Central Ohio Chapter of the Armed Forces
Communications and Electronics Association, the "Highlands Group",
for the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and the National Science Foundation
Academic Research Infrastructure Program review panel.
Presented at the Forty-Fifth Annual Distinguished Alumni
Awards Dinner at the University of the Pacific, Stockton Campus,
on Friday, October 18, 2002.
Memories contributed by Charlie's friend, Thomas
Whether intended or not, Charlie profoundly influenced me by his personal example to
become a serious programmer and not allow myself to be daunted by how big a personal
human effort the process of programming, debugging and problem-solving then
required. He proved by example that if you persisted and were determined enough, it
could be done, a message taught by actually doing it that has stuck with me to this
day, even though it later proved very difficult to sell or teach this concept to
other potential programmers. Needless to say, the term "user-friendly" had not yet
been coined in those days. "User-hostile" was nearer the truth. Charlie was that
rare personal example that proved by dint of dogged determination, and unrelenting
persistence, a large computer program could be got to run and actually used to
successfully solve the underlying mathematical problem. He was a true artist and
his insight was spot-on. Chemistry was his inspiration and computers and code were
his Sistine Chapel. It was an honor and a privilege to have been a witness to such
genius in action. I will think of him fondly with every line of code I ever write
and every Chemometrics application I'm ever involved in.
Thank you again for the opportunity to share these reflections. I share your belief
that this connection was a stroke of great good fortune. Important connections like
this seem to happen in mysterious ways.
Thomas D. Sandry, PhD
Industrial Statistical Consultant, Retired