Phil Rosenzweig Memorial Page

Phil Rosenzweig
9 September 1954 - 11 September 2001

Phil died when his plane crashed into the World Trade center. Phil was my colleague, my mentor, and my friend, and I will miss him forever.

The Rosenzweig and Heller families are good friends in Acton.

Remembering Phil Rosenzweig: Remarks by Bob Sproull

14 September 2001, Congregation Beth Elohim

I had the pleasure of working with Phil over his almost 12 years at Sun Microsystems. On behalf of Phil's many Sun colleagues and friends, I want to extend our sympathy to Lauren, Jeremy, and Max, to the rest of Phil's family, and to all of you who feel this tragic loss. I also want to show you a glimpse of the Phil we knew at Sun.

Phil was a technical leader. His passion and his role was to inspire people to create new technology. He was a persuasive recruiter, who attracted new employees and existing Sun talent to his projects. He was proud of his teams and was their devoted supporter. Yes, he was a manager, who rose to the position of vice president, at one time managing a group of 200 people. But we remember him principally as a technology enthusiast and as a colleague.

Phil had several different assignments over the years at Sun. I think he was most proud of his leadership of the software development team for PC-NFS, a very successful product that for the first time attached personal computers to the powerful networks used to link Sun computers together. Not only the leader, he took a direct role in developing the technology. One result was Phil's first patent at Sun, and his co-inventor Joe Provino remembers how eager Phil was to receive his first patent plaque, a commemorative trophy to hang on the wall. Phil was justifiably proud of his technical contributions, especially his 7 patents.

I remember visiting Phil's office during this period, and he wouldn't let me leave before I was treated to an enthusiastic demo of his product's latest new features.

Phil later recruited a team to pursue research in advanced computer networking technologies. This role gave even greater scope to his technical creativity. He built collaborative research ties with universities, especially the Rochester Institute of Technology, his alma mater. He was a loyal supporter of RIT, and was thrilled to be invited to join the President's Roundtable, a high-level advisory group.

Phil had some difficult assignments and difficult times at Sun. He always tried to shield his team from these troubles. For himself, he showed resolve and determination to seek new opportunities. Sadly, he had just been named leader of a new project--perfectly suited for him--leading the development of a new, strategically critical software product, and had begun to recruit his team.

In speaking recently with many of Phil's colleagues at Sun, I realize we remember him principally for our personal relationships with him. Some say "Phil hired me in 19-whatever" and go on to describe proudly their role in one of Phil's projects. To some, he was a mentor, and his proteges have grown and prospered at Sun. To others, he was an enthusiastic collaborator in creating new technologies. To his teams, he was inserting his "fun events"--like a walking tour of the Big Dig--to ease the pressure of engineering schedules.

To me, Phil was a wonderful colleague and sounding board to have just down the hall to help dissect some of the puzzles the large Sun organization dropped on us. Of course we had many technical conversations. And he was my first source of help when stuck for the right phrase in a paragraph, for help with arcane PC configuration details, or especially for counsel on how to encourage an employee to develop and grow.

To all of us, Phil is a great and well-remembered friend. And while he certainly leaves a technical and leadership void at Sun, the biggest loss is the void that each of us feels personally.

Remembering Phil Rosenzweig: Remarks by Lauren Rosenzweig

22 October September 2001, Sun Microsystems

Today's tribute to Phil will no doubt emphasize what Phil has meant to all of you at Sun. I am here to speak to you about what all of you at Sun meant to Phil.

From the day he started working at Sun, Phil enjoyed his job. He enjoyed working with the top-notch people Sun had hired, and along the way made many friends and respected colleagues on both coasts. Of course I got to know the east coast people better, but I often heard about the west coast people, and occasionally got lucky enough to meet them on the few trips west I took, and at some conferences which I got to attend. At dinner, where most families talked about the president, or celebrities, we talked about Bill Joy, James Gosling, and Scott McNealy. Recently, when we got a call from Ted Kennedy, my son said, "Who's Ted Kennedy?" But when we got a card from James Gosling, my 12 year-old son said, "You mean the guy who wrote Java?"

At Sun Phil found the type of environment he had been searching for-a place where you could do great technology, but at the same time have the security and time with your family of a large corporation. Phil took that Harry Chapin song "Cats in the Cradle" very seriously, and vowed he would spend time with his boys, and go to their school events, and be a good dad. Sun allowed this to happen. Scott's leadership and emphasis on supporting families made it easy for Phil to find the right balances. People who had gone off to start-ups kept asking Phil, "Are you still at Sun?" And he would proudly answer,"Yes, and doing quite well there thank you."

Through the years many people helped Phil along the way in his career. He was very grateful. One of my favorite stories, involved myself and his admin Barb O'Connor. Barb and I worked hard to try to get Phil to look more like an executive. However, he insisted on wearing this certain moth-eaten blue vest, that only a grandpa would wear. Finally Barb and I conspired to have me hide the vest, saying it had gotten lost at the dry cleaners and feigning ignorance. It worked for a while, but then a few weeks later much to our chagrin, Phil had bought another sweater vest only slightly less geeky from Eddie Bauer's! We tried. Phil had wonderful opportunities at Sun to work on very cutting edge technology, and this made him happiest of all. To be part of changing the world through technology is what drove him, aside from getting enough money from stock options to own a Porsche, the car of his childhood dreams. As a wife, I found the car thing a little hard to understand, but it was easy to understand the pride he had in receiving patents, or being chosen a "Wizard of Technology".

Recently Phil had an opportunity to give back to the people who gave him his start-the people at Rochester Institute of Technology. He set up a partnership between RIT and Sun Labs that continues on today. He was very proud of that and it was yet another example of Sun's encouragement of executive initiative.

When I came in to get personal items from Phil's office, I asked Bill Pittore to check if Phil had backed up his Palm Pilot. When Steve Heller brought the boxes home for me, right on top was a printout of Phil's entire directory, and even his schedule up to and beyond the fateful day of Sept. 11th. Most of you are on there--- JP from Grenoble, France, Greg Papadopoulos, former Acton resident, Jim Billmaier, now in Seattle, Jon Feiber and Eric Schmidt, Phil's early mentors and many others. It is a list I'll treasure forever of all the lives he touched and who touched him through Sun Microsystems. He was grateful for knowing each and every one of you.

Thank you so much for all your cards, your thoughts, your help and support for me and our sons, and for your contributions in Phil's memory. Thank you for this tribute to him. Thank you to Scott and the team for making Sun a great place to work, and for showing what can be done when people all around the world cooperate and create.

Thank you.

Ten Years Later: Hal Stern

11 September 2011, Eagle Rock Park 9/11 Memorial

Hal Stern was a colleague and friend of Phil's. Ten years later, Hal took this shot at the Eagle Rock Park 9/11 Memorial. Hal wrote the following words:

We're always adding things after the comma in our names. VP of Engineering; Class of 1984; Wizard of Science. They add color and reveal detail. When I saw Phil's name (and my classmate Karen's) with an age after his name, I was immensely and profoundly saddened by the wonderful things after the comma that were taken from us: mentor, friend, leader, mensch. It also hit me, hard, that I'm now about the same age as Phil was then - I never had the feeling that he was in fact older than any of us, because he excelled at being "one of the guys" in every situation. That's a reason we all loved working with him.

Ten Years Later: Lisa Pavey

11 September 2011, "Sun" Campus, Santa Clara

Lisa Pavey was also a colleague of Phil's. Lisa took these pics of the memorials at Sun on the Santa Clara campus. Phil knew and connected with and was respected by so many people at Sun. Lisa wrote the following words:

I worked with Phil at Sun - even though we were on opposite coasts, our paths crossed frequently as we were both in the same group. Nice guy. We had a bit of a disagreement over a project and then our paths just crossed less often.

Quite a while later I ran into Phil in the corridor. He stopped me to chat - I was just going to keep walking. We talked about that project. We had a bit of a laugh. We agreed to spend more time together, perhaps on his next trip, to see if there was a joint project we could collaborate on.

Phil's next trip was on September 11th 2001.

I am so grateful that he made me stop and we had that chat.

Now I never delay resolving an issue. I don't even wait a day.

I went down to the old Sun campus today to take a moment to remember Phil.

Thank you for your friendship and sage guidance Phil.


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