The Legendary Roast

Shared by Justin Read on 7th January 2019

Gene gave quite possibly the greatest conference roast (for George's 60th birthday) that I have ever seen and -- most likely -- will ever see. It began with pictures of George's childhood and culminated in the now infamous tale of their Hunter S. Thompson style road trip across America. We all learned a little more about George that day, and about Gene. He was an outstanding speaker and someone who left his mark on all those he met. He will be much missed. 


An inspirational leader.

Shared by Charles Saunders on 2nd January 2019

I worked with Gene while at Websense. Over several years, I escaped the dull grey London weather in January for the sunny clines of San Diego. My job was to help Gene construct a keynote presentation that would excite and energise the global Websense salesforce at the annual kickoff event.

During these periods I got to know Gene somewhat. I was struck by his enormous intellect and empathy with his audience. He knew what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it; mine was a minor role in this tour de force. I learnt a lot from these preparations that I continue to carry with me today in my professional life. 

Whenever I filmed Gene I was struck by one remarkable fact that I have never seen repeated by anyone else in my 30 year career. Without fail, he said what he wanted to say in a clear and lucid manner IN ONE TAKE. Never once did I have to ask him to repeat a take, we just pressed record and got the material we needed. I was always in awe of this amazing ability.

Imagine my surprise after Gene had left Websense when we met again at my daughter’s school in Chertsey, UK. Gene was at an informal gathering of parents offering advice to the students on future career options. He was so modest in his experience of the technology industry, I don’t think the assembled staff and students realised what a superstar they had in their midst. 

I wanted to exclaim, “This is Gene Hodges, do you know what he’s achieved!”, but it wasn’t Gene’s style to boast. 

A brilliant intellect, a fascinating character and I feel honoured to have known him.

Eulogy for Gene

Shared by George Lake on 29th December 2018

Delivered via skype at his remembrance gathering on 29 December.

Gene Hodges Eulogy

What am I doing giving you Bibles?

Well, we’ll get to that.

Gene led the roast at the conference in my honor 4 years ago. Usually, those events stop short of accusations of beastiality.  But, that’s just where Gene started.  My family, colleagues, former students and postdocs all loved it. I’m sorely tempted to repay the favor, but that will have to wait for another time.

Gene and I overlapped by mere months at Haverford, but most people thought that we’d been roommates for 4 years.  Our tag line in recent years was that we were “brothers from another mother”.

He graduated two years before I did and I was lucky that he and Dorothy moved close to my parents in DC.I was able to see them often.  My brother Joe remembers this time well, particularly how kind and sensitive Gene was to both my mother and him, the high school kid brother.

There were times, even years, when we were out of touch, but somehow we were in good contact at times of need.  I really appreciate how he was there for my health crisis of the last year.Jola also gained strength from his support.  I was really looking forward to trips we had planned next year.

His death was most unexpected.Gene was doing the right things for his health and was in better shape then a decade ago.  He was reaching out more to people and cultivating more friendships.  The dinner party that he threw in his last hours was one sign of this.I know how excited he was about the preparations and have heard about how pleased he was at how it went.  He couldn’t have asked for better final hours.

In the last days, I’ve been reminded of his college “nickname”: “The Incredible Gene Hodges”.  He became more incredible with time.  In college, we shared the feeling of being mountain boys who were different than the elite kids. But, look at us!  We soared from White Trash to Eurotrash in one generation!

Some people’s great accomplishments go unrecognized because they are just so expected. That was the case with Gene. Of course, he was going to be the one among our college peers to be the CEO of a major corporation. How could it be otherwise?  He learned sales and marketing from his dad who had a small business and died when he was young. His mom, in her way, taught him strategic planning and helped him get off to an elite college where he excelled and was elected President of the Student Government. It was hard for Gene to get credit for his successes, he was just being Gene.

But, there is one great success that we all notice: his 4 children. We could recognize the greatness in each one, but it’s the way that we see them work together and support each other that’s truly remarkable. We all recognize his role as their father as the greatest success of Gene’s life.  Let’s take a moment to recognize Lisa, Annie, Sam and Ellie as the greatest legacies that anyone could leave the world.

At Amanda’s funeral, Gene mentioned his belief in “A Greatness in the Cosmos”.  He called them “The Master Programmer”.  He expected grief from me as I’m a more radical atheist. I respect his belief although I’m not the best to represent it.  I will defer to Thomas Jefferson for that.

So, that brings us to the Bibles, I hope there are enough for all of you.  We now turn to the time of the Founders, so cue the theme for “Hamilton”.  Jefferson and many of the Founders envisioned a Supreme Being who was a “Watchmaker”. I don’t think that there was anything in the 18th century closer to Gene’s notion of The Master Programmer than a Watchmaker.

Jefferson took the Bible and took out all the miracles and other nonsense.He pared it back to a document about love and ethics that represented the course that he thought “The Master Programmer” or “The Watchmaker” set for us.

Even a radical atheist like me recognizes how critical this concept held by Gene and our Founders was for the establishment of democracy and tolerance in our country.  We could all do well to revisit these ideas today.  It’s also fitting given Gene’s recent political activism.

I know, you expected ducks from me, especially since this was originally going to be a beach event.But, Amazon couldn’t deliver them until Sunday.  And, they represent my theology, not Gene’s.

So, these Jefferson Bibles are the closest representation of Gene’s theology that I can leave you with.  Keep them as a rememberance of Gene’s wide ranging intellect and beliefs.Look at them.Keep singing “Hamilton”!  Get a bumper sticker that reads “What would The Master Programmer Do?”, or maybe “What would The Master Programmer GO TO”. (Gene, you broke the loop and did the “GO TO 999” way too soon.)

I invite you all to contribute remembrances at Gene’s Memorial website.  Tell a story.Post lots of pictures (esp. you Darren, you have the motherlode).

I send my love to you all and look forward to seeing you soon.

Today, the corndogs are on me! Or, as we Eurotrash boys say:“Aujourd’hui, les chiens de maïs sont sur moi!”

A wonderful boss, leader, husband and father

Shared by Lisa Lewis on 28th December 2018

I had the pleasure of supporting Gene at Websense for 7 years. I can truly say that he was not only one of the best CEO’s that I had the pleasure of supporting during my career, but he was also a great husband, father and son. 

I am saddened to hear about his passing and so greatful that I had the pleasure of working for him


Shared by JOHN CARRINGTON on 28th December 2018

After a lengthy business courtship with Gene at McAfee where he was President, he joined Websense in 2006 as CEO and I continued my role as Chairman. It was the right time for our company to have his technical expertise and leadership. His presence helped recruit exceptional executives, acquire our major competitor and maintain industry advancements in our security software technology. He facilitated the continued development of best-of-breed Websense products and services that allowed us to become a leader in the Cybersecurity field.

Even after his retirement from Websense in early 2013, it was still his foundational work that helped facilitate the acquisition of Websene by Vista Equity Partners in 2013, followed by its acquisition by Raytheon in 2015.

Gene was a pleasure to work with and great contributor to Websense.

John B. Carrington 

Websense:  Chairman & CEO 1999-2006,  Chairman 1999 - 2013

Gene and Amada

Shared by Dennis Omanoff on 28th December 2018

Met Gene at McAfee when he was President and company working with McKinsey to affect a turnaround. He was mentor, coach, cheerleader, friend and once in awhile ass kicker. We had a huge challenge of improving business and profits. After one meeting where we succeeded in driving Cost of Goods below our competitors I presented him with Brass Knuckles with COGS engraved backwards. Told him he could use as motivator. He loved them and we laughed hard. I visted him in London and La Joya and he would always pull em out for a good laugh. Amazing father, boss and dear friend. I will miss yo

Celtics games with Dorothy, Mark and Melina

Shared by George Lake on 27th December 2018

From Melinda Walker


I am so sorry.

This news is so shocking.

Mark [Bautz] and I watched a lot of Celtics games with Gene and Dorothy.
Just last week, while we were channeling surfing, we happened upon a Celtics game.
I told Mark that every time I come across the Celtics playing on TV  I think about Dorothy and Gene.

That comment was not hyperbole.  Although we did not see Gene very often after he moved West, we never imagined he would not be part of the background of our lives.  

As I struggle to write this note to you, I think I am beginning to understand why Gene was such a force of nature (and great company).  He must have known at a very young age that life was worth the taking.

Mark and I are thinking of you and Jola.


From Caitlin

Shared by George Lake on 26th December 2018

My father’s best friend, Gene, passed away very unexpectedly last night. As a result, I’m remembering lots of fun times with Gene, his late wife and their two children. I want to share them because they were special and memorable. Over the years, their family hosted me at their home in Windsor and in La Jolla, we visited Hell’s Canyon, Poland and Italy together. Gene sent a really sweet gift for our boys and his daughter Ellie will always be one of the most inherently funny people I’ve ever met. His kids and I did a ropes course together, I took Ellie to Windsor Castle (which was a delight! She’s a hoot!), Gene and I got to spend several evenings hanging out with my father and his friends, who are a great group of people and I’m very lucky my dad has such wonderful colleagues, associates and friends and that I get to benefit. Especially when it comes to Gene and his family.

Gene and his family welcomed me into their home many times, so kindly and he will be deeply missed. I’m so glad I got a chance to hear stories about my dad that no one else could have told me. I’m holding all his children in my thoughts today and am so sad that this happened over the Christmas holiday.

Brothers From Another Mother

Shared by George Lake on 26th December 2018

At Monte Verita, Gene and I were sitting together and someone asked: "what are you two guys?"  A question with some ambiguity, but I got the sense and replied "Brothers from Another Mother".  

It's been particularly nice (and a bit too rare) when the families have gotten together.  There are a few photos in the Gallery.

Visiting Surrey

Shared by George Lake on 26th December 2018

from Noellia Noel:

I remember we went for lunch with Gene Jola and George once. Gene wanted to get a handmade ring for his late wife because it was their wedding anniversary. He was adamant that George should come along since the ring makers were Paul and John and this way they could complete the Beatles band with George and ringo

Thick Dick

Shared by George Lake on 26th December 2018

After the Festschrift in Monte Verita, we had a night in Milan (the next day, Jola, Caitlin, Willow, Kevin, Joe, Terri and I all went to the Costa del Sol).  Sarah and Gene both went home.

This was our dinner in Milan.

Sitting to my right is Sarah Loebman.  Sarah had given a talk on "Thick Disks" at the meeting.  She confessed that she lived in fear that at some point, she'd misspeak and say "Thick Dick" instead of disk.   

This really got  Gene wound up and every third sentence had "Thick Dick" in it at that dinner.

Stonehenge Trip, Gene, George and Jola

Shared by George Lake on 26th December 2018

fill in later, doing this way becasue of the way the site handles photos...

Fathers and Master Salesmen

Shared by George Lake on 26th December 2018

Gene's dad had an HVAC company (I've mentioned that he died, well, was murdered, when Gene was just 12).  He still saw what his dad did, e.g. put together compelling bids for work and pitch them.

My dad was a TV repairman who opened his own store.  I was selling TVs on the floor of his shop for a few years by the time I was 12.  So, I know Gene was well aware of what his dad did in business for years before he died.

I remember always looking around at other people in my profession who came, well, from what Gene and I thought of as more elite families.  They were more comfortable "in the element "  of other elites.  Gene and I always joked that we could sell these elites anything.

I notice that most stories in business journals always mentioned Gene's prowess in sales and marketing, as well as leading tech develop and strategic planning.  We both got the sales stuff from our dads (in the US, success rates for grant proposals was 10-30% depending on the year and program, my rate was 90%, I suspect Gene closed deals at that rate as well).  

I also suspect that we both got our strategic planning streaks from our moms.  It's hard to flesh that out, maybe another time.

Sergeant Buffalo and a Tucson Coup d'Etat

Shared by George Lake on 26th December 2018

Just before they graduated Josh and Gene inducted me into a Secret Society that they called Sergeant Buffalo.  The little information that I got was when they appeared (separately) at my bedside in the middle of the night to tell me that "I was in".  

I think the whole thing was a 1970s college version of a snipe hunt, but as the years past I forgot to ask.  I'm not sure if Richard Spady or Chuck Durante know anything about this.  Maybe Dorothy or Lisa (Josh's widow).

Josh was born to be a Skull and Bones guy, Gene had other things in mind.

His plan to take over the city of Tucson was distinct, but seemed related to Sgt. Buffalo.  All that I remember of the plan is that it involved a lot of dirigible airships.

My Mom and Gene

Shared by George Lake on 25th December 2018

My brother might add to this story...  He reminded me about this earlier today.

For the last two years that I was at Haverford, Gene was working for Beltway Bandits in DC.

My parents lived in McLean, so we got together during breaks.

My mother adored Gene.  

Gene always took time to talk to my mom and sometimes chastised me for being a little short with her.  He even ate what she cooked! (I get my ADHD from my mom, she burned everything.  I remember that it took her 4 tries to microwave popcorn for Astrid and Caitlin).  

Gene lost his father so early, his Mom's courage took him forward.  So, I guess it's no surprise that he was so kind to my Mom.

Haverford Computer Center

Shared by George Lake on 25th December 2018

Haverford had an amazing computer for 1972, it was an IBM 360/44

For those of you who remember //SYSIN   //SYSOUT!!!!  IBM job control language!  It made FORTRAN66 look so user friendly.  GOTO, no problem.

Haverford's machine didn't have hardware Floating Point, so there was a knob that let you adjust the number of significant digits (a knob that controlled the internal software!  So cool!)

There were just a few students who used it and most of us took evening shifts where they paid us to hang out there.  I remember Gene, Joel Weisberg and I all did this.

There was a massive low quality printer with a wide carriage and paper with green and white horizontal stripes, the kind of printer that every serious IBM/CDC/etc. computer had.

There was also an operator's console that was like an IBM selectric typewriter with a computer interface.  Gene, Joel and I hacked the machine so it would spew form letters out on the console.

We used this to apply for summer and full-time jobs.  The first line of our letter said "We hacked the IBM 360/44 to send this form letter to the console".  Everyone offered us jobs!

First Time in La Jolla

Shared by George Lake on 25th December 2018

I was doing an observing project with Bruce Partridge during my first year or two of grad school.  Another friend from Haverford, Mike Heggeness was a student at UCSD.  He was living in a converted garage just a couple blocks from the beach in La Jolla (one of the famous ones with a huge rock that looks like a head (Black's Beach).  

Any way, Gene, Mike and I are all at the beach and pretty wasted.  A wave comes up and knocks Gene down and takes away his glasses.  He tries to dive after them and I'm getting worried about the surf.

Abruptly, he stops and says "This is amazing, now I have the extra dimension that I'm blind!"

The guy could spin, no wonder he was renowned for his sales and marketing prowess as a CEO.


Shared by George Lake on 25th December 2018

I passed my exams to advance for a PhD in the fall of 1976.  I was tired of Princeton, so when I learned that Jerry Ostriker was taking a semester sabbatical at Caltech, that sealed it, he was my PhD advisor!

So, I was set to drive cross country in January 1977.

Gene: "I'll go with you if we drive straight thru to Vegas in 48 hours and replicate some of 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas''"   I was in.

The trip was pretty crazy.  I got diagnosed with strep throat as we were on the road.  I had to hole up in a motel for 6 hours while my fever broke.  The alternator died in the 1972 Convertible Mustang and somehow we got it fixed in a short time.  Screwing around on the CB radio pretending we were mercenaries recently back from Angola, we met some crazy guy who really was one and had just finished a job for Robert Vesco.  He wanted to pass a joint back and forth between cars at 80mph.

Somehow, we got to Vegas in the 48 hours, after a spin down the strip and some small amount of Tim Leary's best, Gene was on a plane back to DC and I drove the rest of the way to Pasadena.

Guys, Dolls and NASA

Shared by George Lake on 25th December 2018

When Gene was in Silicone Valley, I go to see the family a few times when I was at NASA Ames for meeting. I was lucky enough to see Lisa star in Guys and Dolls.  I don't remember the year, but I'd guess she was 15 as Annie was so young in my memory. 

We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant and Annie was put in charge of the bill with Gene's credit card.  Pretty comical.

Lisa was fabulous in the lead of Guys and Dolls.  Afterwards, I recall getting a photo of her when she was in her costume--a wedding dress.

I remember telling Gene: "this is a photo that will haunt you!"

Dorothy, do you have a copy?

Cancer Support

Shared by George Lake on 25th December 2018

The last time I was in La Jolla with Gene,  my stomach was barely draining.

Soon thereafter, I was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.  I went from 183 to 125 pounds, spent months in the hospital and am nearly finished with chemo.

Gene was incredibly supportive throughout.  He came to Switzerland twice and Facetimed me most days.  

Somehow, this made his death all the more of a shock.  I was supposed to be the sick one, he was my strong life supporting friend!

Maybe because my brain is a little scrambled from chemo, but yesterday, there was a moment when the grief really swept over me.  For months, when I felt bad, the first thing I thought of was "calling Gene".  I found myself thinking that I needed to do that yesterday.

It will take some time to adjust and accept that he's really gone.

Solar Eclipse 2017

Shared by George Lake on 25th December 2018

Last year, we all had a great eclipse trip.

We were going to be in Eastern Oregon, but I freaked out at how many people were predicted to be in an area with little infrastructure, so we moved to the Oregon coast (where we were very lucky with weather).

We started the trip with a cruise through Hell's canyon, Sam and Ellie hid from the damn picture!  Lisa and Annie got flight delayed.

I hope someone has more photos!

At Newport Beach for the eclipse:  The Incredible Gene Hodges, Lisa, Annie, Sam and Ellie Hodges, George, Joe and Terri Lake, Jola Drzewiecka, John Thorstensen, Gary Collins, Scott and Celeste (Pappas) Boses, Alex Woo, Susan Cheng

Photo from Hells canyon tour, front: Mark Bautz, GL, Terri Lake, Rear: Joe Lake, Jason Burk, Caitlin Lake (with Franklin in lap), Jola Drzewiecka, Melinda Bautz, The Incredible Gene Hodges

My Roast

Shared by George Lake on 25th December 2018

In 2014, my colleagues and former students/postdocs organized a Festschrift for me at Monte Verita in Switzerland.  It was held in a former Swiss free love community (Monte Verita) that was considered to be “the birthplace of the counterculture”.  It’s now a Swiss Federal conference center.

I asked Gene to come and lead the roast at my Festschrift.  He did so generously.  I knew that a colleague or former mentee would be way too gentle for it to be any fun.  Normally,  roasts stop short of accusations of beastiality, but that’s just where Gene started.  The students and postdocs loved it and really opened up.  He gave my daughter and brother a chance to talk about me as well as the professional colleagues.  A great time was had by all.  I’m thick skinned when I can feel the love:)

I insisted on a brief rebuttal at the event.  It went like this:

In his Tractatus, Wittgenstein says that he’s said all that can be said, the rest is nonsense.
Since nothing said at this roast was in the Tractatus, we know that it’s nonsense.
But, Wittgenstein was a great lover of music and the arts.  He recognized that there were
many things that could be shown but not said.  I thank you for what you’ve shown me
tonight and can only hope that it owes in some small measure to what I’ve shown you.

I include that because I want to say that Gene showed me a lot in my life.

The Incredible Gene Hodges

Shared by George Lake on 25th December 2018

Gene and I overlapped for a short time in college.  He quickly took me under his wing and many of his close friends in his class became mine.  There are two that I particularly remember.  While Gene was President of the Student Government, Joshua Kadish was the Chair of the Honor Council.  The Honor Code is a big deal at Haverford and is solely the purview of the students.  Each semester, they had to get a quorum and ratify the honor system.  Any violations were dealt with by the students, not deans or professors.  

Josh was a great friend, but very different from us.  His father was Dean of the UC Berkeley Law School and Josh was destined to be a super-attorney.  He became that, but was particularly keen on mediation rather than courtroom antagonism. 

Before Gene introduced us, Josh presided over the plenary to ratify the Honor Code for the term.  He was really upset as he didn't get a quorum.  He was so upset that he started lecturing the people who were there as though they were the people who hadn't come.  Well, I didn't stand for such things in those days so I stood up and very loudly told him that he was a sanctimonious  ass and he should shut up.  Gene was trying not to laugh hysterically in the background.  

Josh did recognize me when Gene later introduced us.

Josh died on October 7, 2018.  2018 was not a good year for the legends of Haverford Class of 1973.

Richard Spady was another important friend that I met through Gene.  I think we might have even met just after they both graduated.  I think Richard was the one responsible for "The Incredible Gene Hodges" tagline.  I remember one night, Gene pushing Richard and I and a canoe to the Haverford College duckpond which isn't really big enough for watersports, but we drifted and watched the stars to herbal pleasures.

The introduction to Richard by Gene was a very critical one.  I spent a year as a postdoc in Berkeley and then a second year in Cambridge UK.  I could go back to Berkeley for a year, but was looking for jobs.  That was the middle of the really deep Raygun recession and only 4 people were hired into faculty jobs in astrophysics in the entire US.  I got 3 or 4 interviews, but only one of the places that interviewed me managed to hire anyone despite the recession (Stanford) and I don't think I was even in their top 3 (even in those days, you didn't normally get a good faculty position after just 2 years as a postdoc).

Richard had been at Swarthmore College for a few years.  Like so many of us at Haverford, the experience was so fantastic that we wanted to be faculty at small colleges.  But, it takes a special personality and neither Richard nor I had it.  So, he was very happy to leave Swarthmore and go to Bell Labs.  Once he got there, he was phoning me up telling me what Nirvana it was and I had to come see it.  He picked up his company phone book and got me an interview.  I was deemed a great fit and spent 5 years there.  I left when AT&T was broken up.  It was the very best place I could have been for those 5 years.  I owe that experience very directly to Richard and indirectly to Gene.

The first thing Gene ever said to me

Shared by George Lake on 25th December 2018

It was 830am in the overheated Strawbridge Observatory at Haverford.  Louis Green was lecturing to us on Stellar Evolution.  The chairs in the lecture room had high backs.   Gene leaned over and whispered “Hook your arms on the back of  the chair so you don’t fall off when you go to sleep”.  He always gave me good advice!

An early dinner with Gene and Dorothy

Shared by George Lake on 25th December 2018

I was a transfer student at Haverford in the 2nd semester of my sophomore year. Gene was in his last semester before graduation. We had so little time overlapping in college that it's a wonder that we met.  Although, we were in astronomy classes together and there were only 1 or 2 astronomy students per year (my class produced 2 professional astronomers).   Any way, Gene somehow decided that I was somehow "like him" more than just being interested in astronomy. We were indeed both first generation college students, something that wasn't recognized as significant back then, but we sure as hell felt it.  We were also the two Appalachian white trash kids in the college.  (We both went from white trash to Eurotrash in a single generation).  Gene, Dorothy and I were having dinner and he was somehow feeling slighted by the cool/rich kids. So, he asks me "what does your father do George?". "Well, he's a TV repairman". Gene starts jumping up and down pounding the table and screaming "That's great, your father's a fucking TV repairman, that's fantastic, he'a...." on and on. Dorothy is serenely calm throughout this and says "Gene, I don't think George understands why you are so excited". But, she was wrong, I intuitively knew that he was so excited because he was from a working class background and there weren't many kids at elite colleges who were.

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