In Memoriam

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Richard C. Roistacher ’65

Dick came to Reed from Chevy Chase, Maryland, and majored in psychology. His thesis, “Automatic Intravenous Injection: A Manual for the Experimenter,” was completed with Prof. William J. Devery [psychology 1963–70]. During his years at Reed, he was involved in theatre, helping to create costumes for a 1961 production of Peer Gynt, for example, and performing in The Beggars Opera. He was also active in the Reed Gun Club (see “A Bomb in the Basement”).

Influential in his college and later years was Prof. John Hancock [chemistry 1955–89]. Dick earned an MS in psychology from Purdue University, followed by a PhD in social psychology from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He wrote to the college: “While in graduate school I was one of those who wandered into the computing center and never came back. I began as an academic, a research assistant professor at the Center for Advanced Computation at the University of Illinois, where for seven years I published and perished. My area of interest was computer-mediated human communication, which was adjudged by sociology not to be sociology and by computer science as not really computer science. After realizing that I was not about to grab the brass ring of life at Urbana-Champaign, I took my externally funded research group to Washington, D.C., and began a three-year mini-career as a beltway bandit, working on government grants and contracts.”

Dick left the Bureau of Social Science Research to learn more about computer science, migrating to Silicon Valley, where he did “everything in software” from marketing to coding to designing to managing. [In 1998, he reported to Reed that he was working on a novel set in the Silicon Valley, where a brilliant woman heroine, who was a Reed graduate, foiled attempts at criminal hacking and computer malice.] Of the seven software company startups he founded or worked in—as chief executive officer, chief technical officer, software architect, development manager, product manager, and software engineer—none remained, but he had had fun in the process. Dick retired in 2005, and reported that he was busier than ever. “Between being security manager at my synagogue [Congregation Kol Emeth], a literary intellectual, and occasional Democratic Party ward heeler, I have also taken up my first expensive hobby, marksmanship.”

Dick and his wife, Barbara Noble, who retired as chief technical officer from the Hewlett-Packard Company, enjoyed traveling to countries such as Greece, Spain, Russia, and India. In 2012, Dick wrote, “Of course most of the geekiness and lack of self esteem from my Reed days has dissipated, leaving behind a fully formed and admirable human being.” Survivors include Barbara.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2015

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