Henry McCanless

Henry McCanless

December 20, 1950 - October 07, 2011

Henry McCanless

December 20, 1950 - October 07, 2011


Obituary for Henry Richard (Harry) McCanless

Harry McCanless died unexpectedly and instantly at home in Laguna Hills , California on Oct 7th from a massive heart attack. Harry is survived by his longtime companion and husband of over 23 years, Mark Coolidge; by his loving brother, Ed McCanless; by many loving cousins; and by many friends in cities where he lived, worked and visited. Harry was one of a kind, a dear person who will be missed by all who knew him.

Harry was born on Dec. 20, 1950 in Minneapolis, MN. As part of a military family, it was not until he was 7 years old that the family settled in Greenville, SC. Harry attended school there, graduating from J. L. Mann High School in 1968 and was one of the school’s first National Merit Scholars. In high school Harry excelled in math and sciences, track and swimming. From there he went on to Georgia Institute of Technology. At Tech, he was a member of the varsity swim team and graduated in 1972 with a major in Nuclear Physics and a minor in math. He also became fluent in Russian which proved useful later in his life.

Harry became a programmer at Delta Air Lines in Jan 1973. At Delta, he became an invaluable member of the ACP (now TPF) Operating Systems Group and also worked as an information services instructor for the company. In the early 80’s, Harry left Delta and went to work for Amdahl computers. He worked there until IBM recruited Harry from Amdahl in 1987 to IBM’s TPF group. Harry was so skilled that when things went wrong with a business customer’s reservation system, senior IT VP’s of major IBM customers would ask for Harry by name to trouble shoot their problems. He rose through the technical ladder at IBM to Senior Engineer/Programmer- TPF Field Support. He traveled around the country and the world as a TPF consultant and instructor for IBM.

In addition to the professional part of his life, Harry was a wonderful friend, brother, and partner; he was kind, thoughtful, and patient. He was a great listener and always willing to help. As a friend and advisor, Harry knew when the best course of action was to listen. He was beloved by his friends and highly respected. He had a personal wealth and breadth of knowledge. Before there was Wikipedia or Google, there was Harry. If you needed to know a date, a reason for a war, or why the Marathon was extended by 0.4 miles in the 1920 Olympics in London, Harry either knew the answer or knew where to quickly find it. He continued to be very active and was proud of the excellent physical condition he maintained. He ran in the first Peachtree 10k Road Race in Atlanta, GA held on July 4th over 30 years ago and has run in every Peachtree Road Race – either officially or unofficially.

A memorial service will be held at the O’Connor Mortuary 25301 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Hills, CA on Tuesday Oct 11, 2011 at 7:00 PM. Services will also be held at the Thomas McAfee Funeral Home in Greenville, South Carolina. Visitation and a Rosary Service will be held at 6:00 PM Friday Oct 14, with a Funeral Service at Noon on Saturday Oct 15, 2011.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to the Human Rights Campaign, 1640 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036-3278, Attention Mr. Joe Tapp (phone number 480-343-1333)

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18 responses to Henry McCanless

  1. Walt Thomsen says:

    It was a gift and a blessing to know Harry and to have had opportunities to work with him. It is a shock that he has left us.

    It is an understatement to say Harry was brilliant, talented, dedicated, and delightfully witty. He was unique and special in all those ways. He contributed so much to IBM and to TPF.

    More than all those, Harry was a sweet and wonderful person, a treasure. Words fail me. I will miss him. My thoughts and prayers go out to Mark and Ed and to all Harry’s family in their loss.

    Walt Thomsen

  2. Bob Hutsler says:

    Harry became my education mentor. I had the pleasure of co-teaching a few classes with him and I learned that he set the bar so high, I’d could only try to emulate him, never surpass him. He had an uncanny way of taking complex ideas and making them sound simple. Or taking complex problems and solving them quickly. Or taking spaghetti code and understanding it in a flash. A very intelligent, but humble man. Harry, I will miss your wisdom, but more so your humor. Thanks for being a friend.

    Bob Hutsler

  3. Jeff Gill says:

    I worked with Harry for many years as he supported us at Visa. What a unique man – intelligent, witty and humble. My partner and I lived in ATL and he would always get together for dinner during his trips for the Peachtree Roadrace – he will be missed.

    – Jeff Gill

  4. Harry brought humanity to computer hardware and software. The stories he told of his experiences and travels were legendary. He never forgot his southern hospitality and loved that sweet tea. A true icon for IBM and TPF.
    Will Miss you!
    – Jeff Van Minde

  5. Jim Tison says:

    The world is a little darker and heavier place on account of his loss. He will be missed personally and professionally.

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