In Memoriam of John Wuorenmaa

January 19, 2024

It is with great sadness that the BLC announces the passing of John Wuorenmaa on January 11, 2024.

John has been a part of the BLC since its founding, assuming his current position in 1996.  Throughout the subsequent 28 years, the BLC underwent substantial transformations, from analog to digital technologies, and John’s responsibilities morphed and grew in parallel. From fixing tape duplication machines, he has also maintained the computer room, designed classroom technologies, and managed several large-scale server-based projects, including those that now handle the database for Lumière. In addition to the changes happening within his BLC family, through the years, John also nurtured his own family, with his spouse Asija and his two sons, Ryan and Adam (now just shy of 10 years old).

Since sharing the news, so many of our community have written to express their fond memories of John. Many have referred to his quiet demeanor, kindness, warmth, and compassion. Others have reflected on his extraordinary expertise in handling and resolving all things technical.  From servers to websites to dongles, he is known for expertly crafting creative quick fixes (oftentimes involving tape!) to get the job done so that class time was not lost. Perhaps less frequently on display was all of the work that took place quietly behind the scenes to keep all of the numerous BLC systems operating smoothly. Throughout, John always maintained his incredible patience, which was particularly appreciated by “rookie” instructors as they learned to successfully navigate BLC classroom technologies.

For any who may want to support John’s family at this time, we are collecting contributions for Adam and Ryan’s college fund. Please see Orlando Garcia for details ( John’s family is tentatively planning a memorial service in the next few months. If you wish to receive updates on this service or on other ways to support the family, please fill out this google form.

Reflecting on all that John gave, we are reminded yet again of his incredible dedication to his work, to teaching and learning, and to this community, until his last moments. We are all thankful for John.

To use the words of our colleague Nathalie Khankan: May he rest in eternal starlight.

Your BLC Family (Kimberly, Emily, Elle, Keith, and Orlando)

Here are a few more reflections from the extended BLC family:

“John had a heart of gold, and was always eager to help out however he could. He was the ultimate problem solver, and many an instructor benefited from his cheerful assistance. His technical expertise was invaluable to the BLC and made ambitious projects like Lumière and BOLT possible. The BLC will not be the same without John, but we cherish the time we had with him.” Rick Kern, former BLC faculty director

“Of John’s many traits, his honesty, his discretion, his modesty, his dedication, his indefatigable work ethic, his broad skill set, from laying a floor to assembling a computer to managing a network, what will always stand out for me is his generosity: there were no tasks or requests that John would not take on. Nothing was outside his job description. Countless times John would come to campus late at night or in the early hours of the morning or on weekends or holidays to solve a problem with a BLC server, thereby preserving access to needed materials for faculty and students. He would visit faculty homes to resolve issues on personal computers. And his reward was knowing that he had made it possible for UCB, the BLC, and faculty to carry out their educational mission — he never sought recognition; for John, he was just doing his job.” Mark Kaiser, BLC Associate Director (retired)

Victoria Williams, Classroom Manager (retired), shared this poem, by Robert Burns. 

Epitaph on my own Friend

An honest man here lies at rest,
As e’er God with His image blest:
The friend of man, the friend of truth;
The friend of age, and guide of youth:
Few hearts like his, with virtue warm’d,
Few heads with knowledge so inform’d:
If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;
If there is none, he made the best of this.