AUSTIN, Texas - John Greenfield, 95, died Sept. 29, 2012, with his family nearby in his home in Austin, Texas.
A memorial service celebrating John "Papa" Greenfield's life will be held 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6 at the Circle C Community Center, 7817 La Crosse Avenue, Austin, TX 78739. An additional celebration will be held in Escanaba in the summer of 2013.
John Greenfield was born Feb. 3, 1917, in Thief River Falls, Minn. to Joseph and Louise Greenfield. John was raised in Escanaba, where his father led the Escanaba Band.
John married his high school sweetheart Lu Pearson and their more than 50-year romance was blessed by their daughter, Karen.
Self-educated, John received a top ten score on the civil service exam, resulting in a bridge engineering position with the Michigan Highway department. During World War II, his design engineering prowess led to bridge design on the Alaskan highway and then later as an engineer for Kaiser's ship building operations, whose industrial efforts helped win the war by turning out an aircraft carrier every week.
After the war, John moved back to Escanaba to help the family mink farm. He grew tired of the farm and soon returned to his professional love, design engineering, eventually landing a position with IBM in Rochester, Minn. and then later Boca Raton, Fla. As a pioneer in computer design engineering, John's 25 years with IBM started with work on the first mainframe computers and later evolved into designing the ergonomics of the first personal computer.
With the incredible success John experienced in his professional life it pales in comparison to his personal achievements. John was entirely selfless and his gentle demeanor and quick wit would instantly disarm people and beast alike. A true naturalist, John had an almost magical way to share with others the tacit tranquility of his surroundings. With no exaggeration, song birds and squirrels would eat out his hand.
John always put his family first. He turned down executive positions, so he wouldn't have to travel away from his wife and then upon retirement moved to Bethesda, Md. to be closer to his daughter and grandkids. It was almost an impossibility to visit without Papa feeding you some sort of treat. Upon his daughter Karen's retirement, John moved with Karen to Austin, Texas to be near the next generation and the great-grandkids where he lived out the rest of his years. John was incredibly loved and will be missed.
John Greenfield was preceded by the death of his wife, Lu Greenfield.
He is survived by his daughter, Karen Kirkpatrick; his three grandchildren and spouses, John and Kara Kirkpatrick, Tony and Justine Bennett, Michael and Julie Kirkpatrick; and his four great-grandchildren, Michael Bennett, Kylie Bennett, Jadon Bennett and Jamie Kirkpatrick.