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About Jack

 

Tom Engibous' Eulogy at Jack Kilby's Memorial Service

Jack Kilby Memorial ServiceJune 27, 2005 -- Dallas
[Introduction by Gerald Turner]

Thank you, Gerald.

Looking out at the people in this room, I feel surrounded by reminders of Jack Kilby’s remarkable life. And I don’t mean that most of you have a cell phone … or that you have e-mail piling up in your PC … that you drove here in cars with electronic safety systems … or that this morning you watched yesterday’s Rangers game on your Tivo.

It’s true that Jack’s invention of the integrated circuit touches all of our lives dozens of times every day, in ways that range from the mundane to the miraculous. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

What I’m reminded of, looking at all of you, is how Jack touched so many people in a very personal way. I know he touched me personally with his thoughtfulness and generosity.

I’ll never forget the day that Jack came to my office after he won the Nobel Prize. He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small object wrapped in tissue, with his name neatly labeled on the front. He said, “This is for TI.”

I opened the package, and there was the Nobel Prize medal. Jack had received very limited extra copies, and he wanted to share one with us. Words failed me when confronted with such a generous act. But that was Jack.

In addition to his generosity, I will always remember Jack as a man of great imagination. He knew that engineers must have a good imagination if they hope to achieve great things.

To that end, Jack offered a piece of great advice to a mother who once asked him, how could she teach her child to be a great inventor? In his plainspoken Kansas voice, Jack simply said, “Read them fairy tales.”

He knew that it’s okay to dream. In fact, he knew that it is essential to dream, because without dreams, nothing will change. And Jack very much wanted to change things for the better.

Changing the world is exactly what Jack did, in ways that are still unfolding. Thanks to his invention, our world is on the cusp of artificial eyes that will let blind people see … prosthetic devices that amputees can control with their minds … and even cars that safely drive themselves.

Yet no matter how often people praised and applauded Jack, he remained the most humble of men. He was always quick to credit the tens of thousands of engineers who followed in his footsteps, building on his invention and discovering new applications. And he was always kind to the young engineers who flocked around him wherever he went, asking for an autograph or to pose for a photo.

The encouragement that he gave to many generations of engineers will continue making a difference in our world for decades to come.

Some of the most talented of these engineers have been honored through the years with the Jack Kilby Award, presented by the Kilby Foundation. The foundation has prepared a resolution acknowledging their appreciation for Jack’s life and his many contributions, and the resolution will be presented to Jack’s family.

I think Jack would have appreciated that, because his family was so very important to him. If you knew Jack, then you’re well aware of just how much he loved his family – his wife, Barbara … his daughters, Janet and Ann … his sister, Jane … and his five granddaughters.

Jack often said, “The Kilbys specialized in girls.” I would just add that the Kilbys specialized in very special girls.

Something you might not know about Jack … is how he helped scores of elementary, middle-school and high-school students with their science and history papers. He would answer the same questions time after time – always with patience and a real interest in the individual.

T.R. Reid – who is here with us today – writes for the Washington Post and wrote a book about the early days of semiconductors. The Reids were living in Tokyo when Jack won the Kyoto Prize, Japan's highest technology award, and T.R.’s 8-year-old daughter, Katie, was assigned to do a class paper about the famous inventor.

While Jack was talking with the young girl, the nervous public relations people for the Kyoto Prize kept saying it was time for interviews with Japan’s national media. But Jack refused to be rushed and finally said, “We can do the TV interview after I finish talking to Katie.”

Jack Kilby recognized that the future of our world does not lie in the headlines of major media. He knew that the future is born in the minds and hearts of little girls and boys.

So he took the time to inspire young people. He took the time to inspire us all. And for that, I will be forever grateful for the distinct honor of having known Jack Kilby.

At this point, I’d like to introduce three of Jack’s personal friends, who will share their own thoughts. First, we’ll hear from Charles Phipps, then from Charley Clough and then Kevin McGarity.