Another pioneer leaves us . . .
Margaret Butler, 1924 - 2013
Conrad Weisert, March 20, 2013
When I moved to Chicago in 1967 I joined the ACM Chapter, which had been started five years earlier. At my first few meetings I met many of the regulars who had founded the organization and came together every month for both social and professional activity.
One of them was Margaret Butler, who usually came to ACM meetings with her husband, Jim. They worked at Argonne National Laboratories, the pioneering nuclear research institution in those days before nearby Fermilab. Yesterday's Chicago Tribune obituary summarizes her activities as a research mathematician and computer pioneer.
Twenty years later she tapped me to serve on the program committee for the National Computer Conference. We met every couple of weeks, and I got to observe Margaret manage a very complex undertaking, dealing with both state-of-the-art technical issues and difficult prima-donna people. She managed extremely well, remaining cheerful and positive in the face of serious difficulties. The conference was a great success, although for mostly financial reasons it was the last of those huge AFIPS conferences.
As far as I recall, the Chicago ACM Chapter last saw Margaret Butler at our 40th Anniversary celebration ten years ago. It was a privilege to work with and know this great lady and pioneering computer scientist. We miss her.
Last modified March 20, 2013