Lewis' Blog Tales from the trenches of information technology


Some thoughts on my friend and colleague, Howard Plotnik

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Clients and friends have heard me say the words many times over the years, "no worries; I'll order one up from Howie," or "I'll ask Howie about what fits that connector." For well over two decades, Howie and I maintained a close personal friendship and a good professional one.

We almost met in 1987, when I happened to contact his employer (a local computer hardware distributor here on Long Island), seeking the latest and greatest in video card technology, an ATI Technologies EGA Wonder. At the time, this particular distributor was likely ATI's sole distributor in the northeast (speculation on my part, but ATI was quite young). However, through some twist of fate, someone else happened to handle my order and my pick-up, when I drove over to become the first kid on the block with this amazing piece of hardware.

It was likely, though, within the next six months that we met through a mutual friend. He and Howie had been close friends for years. It surely didn't take long for Howie and me to realize that we truly enjoyed each other's company and counsel. I quickly became his accountant, and he (more quickly than that) became my "go-to" guy for all things connector and cable related. He was a virtual encyclopedia of connections, length limits, shielding, and so much more.

Within another year I guess, I became his parents' accountant, also for his two sisters and other friends of the family; relationships which have endured and which I value to this day.

When my mother passed suddenly in 2006, Howie was there. In fact, not only can I not think of a single time when we had a disagreement over anything - including where to go for lunch - , but neither can I think of a time when he ever let me down personally or professionally. I can honestly say that the world would be a far better place if there were even a few more people like him in it. I never knew Howie to tell even a white lie, and never to try to shift responsibility for anything to someone else. He was, to sum things up, of Honesty and Integrity.

There is information on the net concerning his initial bout with breast cancer (he was, as I understand it, one of the youngest men on record to have been diagnosed, and he was "successfully" treated), and I don't want to dwell on his ordeal, other than to say that some years later, he once again had to do battle with that terrible foe. After a several year long fight, he finally reached the end on Tuesday, June 10.

Thankfully, he went to sleep in his chair on Monday night, and did not awaken Tuesday morning. He conitnued in his sleep, the family gathering at his home, and finally passed, peacefully and quietly, to that next adventure. I suppose as these things go, and considering what he had been forced to endure, this was about the best we could have hoped for him. My own spirits are lifted - if ever so slightly - in the knowledge that he was at home, surrounded by those who loved him, and not in some alien, sterile environment, infused with so many substances that it would be impossible to say when it was truly his time to leave us. He left this life - as best he could - on his terms, and that is probably all that any of us could ever ask.

I am convinced that what we do in life is not nearly as important as the lives we touch and those whose lives touch us. I consider myself blessed to have known Howard as long as I did, and to have him touch my life so profoundly. I am honored to call him a friend, and his presence - while likely to be felt for some time - will be sorely missed in the days ahead.

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