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

Disneyland

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.

Technology

Pet

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.

Programming

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.

Genealogy

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.

Entrepreneurship

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

PH2-vs-PH2E

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

Conferences

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, AncestorLink.com.

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.

Conclusion

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.

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Reader Comments

What a beautiful tribute Mike. Your Dad was a treasure and you were so blessed to have him as a father. He was blessed to have you as a son too. Love you all.

A proud legacy from a proud son. Doesn’t get any better than that.

My sincere sympathy to you & your family. You are lucky to have such wonderful memories of a man who sounds like he was completely committed to fatherhood.

Ahh, another Disney fan! He sounds like quite a guy. Thank you for sharing this sweet tribute to him.

The ripples he made will be felt for generations to come.

Thank you for sharing your Dad with us thru his life sketch here. I’m sure its just a smidgeon of it.
What a great person!

I too have benefited from Personal Historian.

Keep up this awesome, incredible work.

Mike. That is a fantastic tribute. He was a great guy and we lost an entire library when he passed.
Thanks for sharing.

What a great story. Your Dad reminds me a lot of my mother. She, too, was always there to encourage and to love and to push a person to do more just by her example. It is good to have such memories and examples.

Mike your tribute to your dad brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful legacy! Thanks for sharing with us. Like you and your father, I’m a “techie” too and started working on computers in the mainframe world and later PCs and then moved into the world of unix. Although I’m retired now, I still am just as passionate about technology and especially as it applies to genealogy. I’ve used RootsMagic for years and even earlier when it was first known as Family Origins. Although I’ve bought about every genealogy software out there. my personal preference is still Roots Magic.

Awesome tribute. Awesome story. Thank you for sharing.

Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story with us. We can all feel the love and respect you had for your father. What a great legacy!

How great your loss, but greater were the lessons that it taught you. My father made it to 94 and his memory was nearly perfect, but he lost his mobility and ability to do the things that he loved most, his steam engines. My oldest sister turned 98 in November, so I believe that I have many more years (20+) to go. I really enjoy my genealogy experience and hope that my memory will continue like my parents. By the way my first computer was an Atari 800 and my first good software was yours.

Well said. Your honoring him with the memories is what life is about.

May you and your family have peace, we are sure he knew how you felt about him.

Thank you for sharing the wisdom and greatness and difference that your dad made to help others be inspired to do genealogy. No wonder I have been so impressed with you and the knowledge you have shared to so many. He truly made his mark, and is now able to remember all of the wonderful things in his life.

What a beautiful and touching tribute. It is what we get from our parents that make us who we are.

Mike, what a lovely tribute to your dad. I am so sorry for your recent loss. Judging from your wonderful comments, your dad lives on in you and all your family and will never be forgotten. Love and prayers to you and your family.

Michael,
What a wonderful tribute and touching story.
I was unaware of your father’s passing.
I’m glad I had the chance to meet him and your Mom, and you, a couple years ago in Mesa. (I’m the barbershopper – we spoke about your interest in singing).
And, you are absolutely correct saying that your Dad was always selling – he was the one who told me I should buy the complete set, Family Atlas and Family Historian, which I did.
My sympathy to you and your family for your loss. Thank you for including his memorial in Roots Magic News. Sincerely, Ken Corns

A very neat tribute to your father, Mike. Thanks for sharing your Memories and are great to have. Peace and sympathy to you and your family in this time of sorrow.

What a great tribute to a great man who helped you to become the best you could be by example. God bless.

Thank you for sharing your father with us. He is an inspiration.

I remember meeting your parents at a convention in Cedar City. They were so warm and informative. it is wonderful to really get to know your dad through your eyes.i too worked with my father most of my life. He has been gone 20 years and I still see the miricales in my life. Thanks for sharing.

This is one of the best tributes to a father I have ever read. Thanks for sharing with me and all Roots Magic persons. Thanks again. Are DIXON’S in yhour genealogy? Thomas Dixon

Thank you for sharing your family memories with us. Sympathy to all the family.

What a wonderful tribute to your dad. My sympathies in your great loss!

Thanks for sharing your Dad’s amazing life and achievements. God Bless.

My Dad spent most of my growing up years working hard to support his wife and three children. I continue to miss him as the many years pass by. I too proudly say he is my Dad.

What a great tribute to your father. You were blessed to have a father who was so family oriented and yet so skilled and talented to help you with all your pursuits. My sympathy to you and your family.

Beautifully phrased–Thank You for enriching my morning.

A moving tribute.

What a wonderful tribute to your father! It is obvious that he will be missed by many and that he was an amazing man. Thank you also for sharing his old website! I thoroughly enjoyed the presentations on Photography and on organizing your computer for family history. Would have loved to see them presented in person and the organization one could still be presented today (wish I’d seen it years ago!) Your father’s influence will continue for generations. You are a lucky man!!

Once again you have made you Dad proud. A wonderful tribute. I’m so sorry for your loss.

It is nice to hear of someone so proud and thankful for their father, as God intended families to be loving and supportive of each other.

Thank you so much for sharing your Dad with us. Some how my love of family and genealogy has become pretty much my life. I started over 50 yrs. ago and now I feel pressure to finish what I started writing a long time ago. I will be 75 in May, I worry about the memory lose . I hope I can keep going to finish my goal which is to leave stories, photos, and help others as you have know their ancestors. You did a beautiful job. Are you related to Elaine Booth? PS Thanks for Roots Magic 7. type your comment here.

A loving tribute. My father was a scholar and a teacher; he died in 1964 and I still miss him.

Someone asked if there are Dixons in your family. I am going to be more specific. Are you somehow related to the Science Fiction Author: Gordon Dixon? (I know that name overlaps are common, but I could not avoid asking the question.)

I am sorry to hear Bishop Booth has passed. We lived in Ames Ward during our college and enjoyed your family very much. Seen your Dad and Mom at Education Week one time since. A good man and great family. Didn’t know you were involved with Rootsmagic but I switch from several other programs and love this one. I spread the word almost daily. Especially here in Northern Canada where we are serving a mission. Bob and Linda Evans

Thanks for letting us know about your dad’s passing. I remember seeing him, your mom and the rest of the RM family working at the different conferences. What a great way to run a business, with the whole family. So sorry for your loss but what great memories you have of your dad and what a great example your company is – family working together.

Mahalo for sharing such a beautiful tribute of the love and respect of your father’s life. My condolences to you and your family. I am sure he is very proud of the legacy he has left behind in the work you continue to do in his footsteps.

Mike I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my Dad in 1980. It seems like yesterday & I still miss him.
God bless you & your family and give you strength.
Love to all,
Lou
Louis E. Love, O.D.

e, O.D.

I’ve often heard that one preaches his/her own funeral. Certainly this man did just that and left a very positive legacy that will benefit all.

Thank you for this thoughtful tribute to your father. He is worthy of each and every one. I attended B.Y. High School with him and know of his integrity and goodness. You are fortunate to have his genes and we are grateful that you are helping so many of us along the way with your software.

What a wonderful tribute to a father who showed by actions and thought how to love his family! I lost my father to a series of strokes that made him very depressed. Why? Because he too, couldn’t remember how to do things he had done for years. Thank you for sharing this tribute with us.

Michael,
I am so glad you wrote this. I wanted to corner you at RootsTech this year and tell you this, but you were never free. I did get to talk to your Mom twice.

Your Dad was a great man. There were two very different times in my life he sat down, listened to me and gave me great advice.

The first was in 1979. As new LDS convert, I enrolled in Iowa State University so I could apply for veterinary school there the following year. I was terribly homesick. Bishop Booth sat me down, told me to read my scriptures everyday and make friends. He was a kind bishop at a critical time.

Michael, just for the record, I remember a 3 year old named Michael in the Ames Ward building who always seemed to find a piano (before, during and after meetings) and play a two note “du-da-du-da-du-da …” until someone found him and stopped him. I’m glad to see you turned out so well. I think you were also in the nursery Charlie and I were were assigned to. You were pretty good there. We had a biter (Jeff Angus), and we put most our efforts into protecting all the rest of you from him! Perhaps that’s why you let your voice be heard on the piano later!

Fast forward to about 2008 0r 2009. I attended my first ever genealogy conference (just the exhibit hall, I was too unsure about signing up for classes) – it was a “Genealogy Expo” at the South Town Expo center in Sandy, UT. I was delighted to see my old friends June and Gordon there.

I bought RootsMagic from them and started asking Gordon all kinds of genealogy questions. He sat down and talked to be probably about an hour and answered my questions. It really helped me to fast forward my genealogy. Now, I’m hoping to transition from a veterinarian to a professional genealogist.

Thanks to June, Gordon and Michael. You have all taught me a great deal.
Clytee Kleager Gold

Mike….What a beautiful tribute to your sweet father. We know he loves his family very much and is so proud of you and continues to watch over you. He has always been such a great support to you and your family, and such a wonderful example. He truly will be missed. We know you will carry on his legacy. Your mom. dad and family are such dear friends and we love you all… Thanks for all you do to bless our family.
David and Jenny Hawks

Thank you Mike, a moving tribute.

To Mike and families, (both personal and Roots Magic):
What a wonderful tribute to your Dad, it could not be done any better. My sincere condolences to you all, and maybe he will be guiding you from above!!

May you always feel his love. Thank you for sharing this tender portrait of your dad.

Gordon was a good friend ever since the days in Ogden when you and he were early members of our Ogden Apple User’s Group club where we shared the love and learning about Apple products. Just as we are asked to collaborate in familysearch familyTree, the many enthusiasts in technology have collaborated and or contributed much to our ability to find our ancestors and organize our heritage, and share. We will sense Gordon’s absence, but his contributions will live on.

What a great tribute, Mike. And what a blessing to have a Dad who will forever bring smiles to your and our faces when we remember him. Blessings upon you, your mom, and the rest of your family.

My sympathy to you and your family. Thank you for sharing this.

Dear Booth family,
The eldest Star of RootsMagic is now high in the sky. May God bless Gordon allowing him to keep shining with his good example, strengthening the value that family has in the generations to come.
My sincere sympathy to the Booth family. Gordon’s spirit is to remain deep in your souls, as a shining path and never ending support.
Yours Sincerely,
Antal Lipthay
(Old RootsMagic fan)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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….

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.

What a blessing we have received in your willingness and ability to share your heart.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 :)

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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”
Garry

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!

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.

thank you for sharing with us. your an inspriation

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.

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.

Thank you for sharing your memories of your dad with us and blessing us with the stories.

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.

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.