I was recently asked to write a few words about Bill Spilman. While I have met and spoken will Bill, I felt I couldn't really do justice to the 25 years he's contributed to our industry, and so I respectfully "yield to the gentleman from California", who has graciously volunteered to write this guest editorial. ---ed.
On July 15 of this year, due to health reasons, my father retired from TPF. In today's world of constant challenges to the longevity of TPF I thought this retirement should take special note. Over 25 years ago, as a Braniff Airlines ticket agent, he was selected to become a computer programmer and sent to New York to attend the second ever ACP class offered to non IBM employees. Upon returning to Dallas he helped unpack those original A-03 and A-06 documents and give birth to one of the first TPF systems. In these days when computers were more in science fiction novels than everyday life my father and a few other under trained pioneers set out to prove this uncharted technology called TPF.
Like many of us, my father's career took him to several companies. Continental Airlines, Flying Tigers, First Interstate Bank, Bank of America and Worldspan to name a few. His name can still be found at these places on many tattered and edited documents. After several years as a programmer he ventured into management and then later into consulting. His consulting work allowed him to first hand see the versatility and global expansion of TPF in places like British Airways, EVA Airlines, and Westin Hotels. His career not only lasted 25 years but helped in the growth of TPF in multiple industries and companies worldwide.
After these many years, my father's career may have crossed the paths of many of you reading this today. It may have been a late night in the computer room during his early years. You may have first met him as an entry level programmer while he was trying to be a guiding manager. You may have been introduced over a beer or three at one of those far away excursions to an ACP/TPF User's Group meeting while he was the chairman. Maybe you met him during the last year as Worldspan where his time was too short for what he had hoped to contribute. He also may have been just a friend to some of you who never had the opportunity to work with him. Whatever the occasion I hope the experience was fond and lasting or at least one of mutual respect.
As a child my only impressions of TPF were middle of the night telephone calls spoken in a foreign acronymic language followed by a cursed trip to the office. I did not heed this early warning and I followed my dad's footsteps to become a second generation TPF programmer. The more I learned about this business the more appreciation I gained for what my father had accomplished. However, I did not follow my dad's footsteps because of his accomplishments in TPF, I did so out of the love, respect and admiration I had for him as a father and a person. I would like you all to join me in honoring the accomplishments of his career and his retirement. For those of you who know him I hope the times hold a special place. for those of you who never met him you can know that there are special people who have successfully made TPF their career for over 25 years. Thank you Dad for your hard work and contributions to the industry but more importantly thank you for all the guidance and love you have given me as a father.
William K. Spilman