In Memory of Gordon Dixon Booth

Gordon Dixon Booth

Today is a holiday in the United States- Presidents’ Day. But it’s special for me in a different way. Today would have been my dad’s 79th birthday. My father, Gordon Dixon Booth, passed away last month on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 7:31 a.m. He died at home, comfortable, and surrounded by his loved ones. And on this, his first birthday since he left us, I wanted to share some things about him that have shaped me and have left their mark on RootsMagic in ways that many wouldn’t know, until now.

Gordon Graduation

Gordon’s accomplishments were many. He was extremely intelligent and earned many degrees including a Ph.D. in Statistics. He held many positions of responsibility in the communities where he lived. He had a long, distinguished career where he conducted countless experiments and authored just as many papers. But for me, his greatest work was at home and the personal and permanent impressions he left on his family.

Being Together


My dad loved Disney. He grew up collecting Donald Duck comics and reels of Disney cartoons. So naturally, my early years were filled with Disney books and toys. But none of that could compare to the day that he and my mom loaded up the station wagon with six kids and drove halfway across the country to Disneyland. From that time on, we enjoyed dozens of pilgrimages to the Happiest Place on Earth.

For us, it wasn’t the rides, parades, or fireworks that were most important. It was always about being together, building memories, and having fun together. My dad didn’t have a lot of outside hobbies or recreation that he did on his own. His joy came from being with his family and doing things together.



My dad was the original “early adopter”. Whether it was building a radio transmitter as a young boy; buying one of the first personal computers in Ames, Iowa (a Commodore Pet); or taking “selfies” of himself near the end of his life, he always loved the latest gadgets and technology.

To the dismay of my patient wife, I inherited this trait as my house is just as cluttered with new gadgets and technologies today as the house I grew up in. It’s served me well, however, as we’ve worked to make our software work with emerging technologies such as mobile platforms, online databases, and cloud services.


As a statistician, my dad pioneered the use of computers to perform complex analyses and computations using programs which he wrote on punch cards. And when my family bought that first Commodore Pet computer, it exposed me to this amazing new world. At the tender age of four, my dad helped me write my very first computer program.

As the years went by, he would buy the latest computers and would learn to write software on them. Like a master and apprentice, I would sit in a chair next to him and watch him write code. Over time, I would get to the point where I could spot bugs and mistakes. The first paid job I ever had was writing code for him to use in his software.


1984 Gordon

My love of genealogy came from my parents. When I was 11 years old, they took my sister and me down to Salt Lake City to the newly-opened Family History Library. My dad took me over to racks of microfiche that contained the International Genealogical Index, or IGI. He showed me how to look up a name, write down a batch number, find the microfilm, and use the microfilm reader to look up a photographed record. It was like a big treasure hunt and I was hooked.


My dad was an entrepreneur. Even though he worked for many years for the U.S.D.A., he always had a side-business that he would work on to get off the ground. I watched as he wrote and marketed his own statistical analysis software, “Visible Regression” and “The Time Machine”.

Mike Eagle

When the IGI became available on CD-ROM at the Family History Library, he came up with an idea for a program which would convert the GEDCOM files exported by it into something more easily used and searched. He encouraged me to write it and “GIPSI” was born. Even though I was only in high school, my parents helped me market, sell, and ship the software, leaving all the profits to me. The proceeds from GIPSI helped me pay my way through college and my LDS mission.

After graduating from BYU with a master’s degree (in statistics, of course), I went to work side-by-side with my dad in “Booth Associates”, the statistical consulting company that he founded. My dad so engrained the entrepreneurial spirit in me that I can only count on one hand the number of times that I have worked for somebody else.

Personal Historian


In 2003, I was talking with my parents about personal histories and how they wanted to write their own and the histories of my grandparents. We looked for software out there to help us with the task and, not finding any, decided to make our own. After several months of development, experimenting, and testing, Personal Historian was born.
My parents worked hard to help me get the new product off the ground. We travelled to many conferences and spent many days, nights, and meals together. When I joined up with Bruce and RootsMagic, my parents came along for the ride.

Gordon at RootsMagic Booth


My dad was passionate about family history and loved talking to people about our software. He was one of our best salespersons! He also became a popular presenter at conferences teaching classes on British research, photography, and personal histories. In fact, many of his old presentations are still available at his website,

All Tuckered Out

The Last Challenge

Gordon’s last great challenge was with memory-loss and dementia. For someone who loved to learn, think, and teach, this was akin to a world-class athlete becoming paralyzed. As difficult as it can be caring for a loved one with memory-loss, I can’t imagine what must have been like for him to experience personally.

But he kept trying. He would optimistically buy books that he wouldn’t be able to learn from. He would ask me questions about his gadgets whose answers he knew he wouldn’t remember. He even attended his final genealogy conference in Ogden last September and worked in the RootsMagic booth. As he talked with attendees and answered questions, my mom and I marveled at how re-energized he was and how he almost seemed to be “back” for those brief few hours.


Mike on Gordons Back

I love and miss Gordon. He’s my father, my mentor, my business partner, and my friend. He taught me how to be a programmer, a genealogist, and an entrepreneur. He showed me how to be a man, a husband to my wife, and a father to my own children. There is not a single aspect of my life that I can’t trace back to him and his influence. I cannot express my gratitude for all that he has done for me.

If I had to summarize all that he was, all that he did, and all that he means to me, it would be this:

He’s my dad.

81 thoughts to “In Memory of Gordon Dixon Booth”

  1. Mike:
    I lost my Dad when I was nine. I have often thought how my life would have been had he lived. You brought tears to my eyes. How great it was that you and your Dad shared such great love. Thank you for sharing.

  2. A hero in every sense of the word. I remember him well. He helped me at a BYU family history conference when I bought my first RootsMagic program, and I visited with him a few times after. He leaves a hole in our hearts. It was wonderful to read your memories of him.

  3. Families really are forever. That is why our genealogy hobbies are so important. They are worth doing. Your father was very special to you, Mike. Your written words in this story were wonderful. I am sorry for your loss.

  4. Enjoyed so much hearing about your dad, He was also an inspiration to me. I have marveled over RootsMagic and its companions since its inception many years ago. Being a former programmer I will miss the man behind the code. Thank you and God Bless your amazing family.

  5. What a wonderful way to pay honor to a man that not only means so much to you, but through you, means a lot to us and our positive family history experience. I am sorry for your loss.

  6. I’m new to the RootsMagic family and reading about the love and high standards your dad set, it’s no wonder that already happy with the project. My thoughts are with your family in your time of loss. Words fail….

  7. Thank you for sharing your feelings. Your expression of Love and Honor and Respect is but another example of the Hearts of the Fathers and Children turning towards one another to move forward this great work of Family History. We really appreciate all you and your family have done.

  8. I wish that I would have had the opportunity to meet your father; I am new to Roots Magic but I have loved family history work for years on the public level and now on the church level and look forward to working with your software, especially so after reading your story. My father also passed away from a long battle with Alzheimers and I can attest to witnessing the decline and sometimes the amazing comebacks that are a part of living closely with a loved one. Thank you for sharing the memories and for continuing on your path.

  9. What a great blessing to have such great memories of your father. Thanks for sharing them. Thanks also for the great Roots Magic Program.

  10. How wonderful of you to tell us of this great man, your father. Thank you for all you and your dad have done and are doing to make this a better world for all of us. May you be comforted in your loss.

  11. Thank you for sharing your touching comments. I’m one of your fans you have never met; a Wisconsininte that was blessed by an LDS grandfather who taught me about the world and its wonders. My father passed away twenty-five years ago and I feel closer to him than ever due in part to RootsMagic and my daily immersion in family research and documentation; plus writing a substantive family history. Warm regards to you and your dear family.

  12. Dear Mike and family, I always enjoyed visiting with your Mom and Dad at the trade shows. What a wonderful tribute you have given to your Dad. I now know how much an influence he had on what you are accomplishing. We have a lot in common with Iowa State. My sincere sympathy to you and your family. Thanks for all the help you all have given me. Thanks Mike.

  13. Mike Our heart goes out to you and all of your family at such an unhappy time. We have been grateful to know you and the tribute you provided here for your dad, only; reinforces our feeling that you had to have some pretty incredible parents for you to be the person you are. Thank you so much for allowing us all to share this precious time with you. Our prayers and condolences are all for you and yours.

  14. What a wonderful tribute to read. I am thankful that you posted it into the news feed for Rootsmagic 🙂

    Families are eternal, and it sounds like you have a great family to be part of 🙂

    enjoy 🙂

  15. Incredible tribute – beautifully written.
    I will be using Personal Historian as I try to put together my Mom’s life story, who passed two years ago. Thank you for your valuable work.

    Sue Sheldon

  16. Such a beautiful tribute. I feel that I met your father personally through the loving words that you wrote. I’m sure he would be so touched by your words and proud of you.

  17. That’s a great prose tribute to your Dad – thanks!

    I don’t know if you could do this within your personal limits of privacy: it would be great to see a Personal Historian product life story for your Dad as well.

  18. Thank you for sharing these wonderful insights into someone who has been such a wonderful part of all these programs. I switched to RM from PAF and have been delighted with it and have also used Personal Historian. I am in awe of people like your Dad who work to make genealogy easier for the rest of us. Thank you for all you do too.

  19. What a fortunate fellow you were to have a loving father . I knew when you left the old company to start Family Origins that you were a special kind of guy. Now I understand better what makes you YOU. Sincere sympathy to you and your family.

  20. Its always good to hear about positive family experiences. Its wonderful to know that you will be with your father again someday.

  21. I was logging into my RootsMagic account and the “In memory of Gordon Dixon Booth” link popped up at the top of the RootsMagic news box. I opened it hoping that it wasn’t the Gordon Booth that hired me in 1989 to work with him at the Intermountain Research Station (INT) on 25th Street in Ogden. I was sad to read the news and see that it was indeed the Gordon Booth I knew and respected.
    When Gordon retired I was promoted to fill his position. Then our colleague Charles Graham retired soon thereafter and I was left as the lone statistician for INT. I retired January 31st, 2014 after 26 years of federal service.
    I can vouch for your assessment of your dad: He was an outlier, several standard deviations above the mean in everything he did.
    Please let your mother June know that I am truly saddened by your loss.

  22. I found your story of your father quite touching. Lost my dad last November and his birthday is today, he would have been 88 years old. Always wanted to be closer to him but that didn’t eventuate, joining the church didn’t help but he was a good Dad all the same. I wish you and your family all the best from “Downunder Adelaide, South Australia”

  23. What a nice tribute to your dad, and a glimpse of who he was for your children and those that will come after. Thank you for sharing!

  24. Thank you for sharing your father with us. This was a beautiful tribute. I felt like I truly knew him. You have been truly blessed.

  25. It is remarkable to me that someone I have never met could come alive using pictures and narrative. Your father sounds like a remarkable man. I’m grateful for people who can have such a lasting influence on so many.

  26. Mike, Your Dad was a great friend to Larry and I. He was always so glad to be able to work side by side with you. He and your Mom are so proud of you and your family.

  27. Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to your dad! Reminds me a lot of my dad. I am inspired to write a tribute to my father who passed away too many years ago.

  28. thanks Mike for sharing your memories with us. We all have things to be grateful for about the ones that came before us and are gone now. Some day will be reunited again and it will be forever.Take care.

Comments are closed.