Raymond John Noorda - Obituary

Raymond John Noorda , age 82, passed away in his home in Orem, Utah on October 9, 2006 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Ray was born June 19, 1924, in Ogden, Utah, and was the third son of Dutch immigrants, Bertus and Alida Noorda. Ray wed Lewena (Tye) Taylor on August 4, 1950. The marriage was later solemnized in the Salt Lake Temple.

Ray’s working life began early as he helped supplement his family’s income during the Great Depression. He worked a wide variety of jobs: in a candy shop, setting pins in a bowling alley, as a loading clerk at a train station, picking cherries, selling magazines, and even herding sheep. These early experiences instilled in him a strong work ethic that all reputable employment was honorable. Ray’s childhood foreshadowed his future success: by the 4th grade he was CEO of a local playground, where the children ran their own programs. He organized a little league team and would ride his bike to teammates’ houses to encourage them to show up at games, peddling them in on his handlebars if necessary.

In high school, Ray was an exceptional baseball player. He was asked to join a professional team, but his mother wouldn’t let him, saying, “Raymond is going to college!”

After graduating from Ogden High School, Ray attended Weber State College in Ogden, Utah. He was called to serve in the Navy as an Electronics Technician during WWII, working in early radar systems for two years. When Ray’s service in the Navy was completed, he attended the University of Utah, where he graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering in 1949. He received honorary PhD’s from the University of Utah in 1994, and Weber State University in 1995.

While in college, Ray was offered a job with General Electric, which he accepted upon graduation. He worked at GE for 21 years in many capacities, including as an electrical engineer and as a regional manager, and later he was involved in GE’s marketing efforts. During his years at GE, Ray developed a reputation for entrepreneurship, leading start-ups within the company.

Following his years at GE, Ray continued his development as a brilliant businessman. He showed a special talent for turning around struggling businesses, a skill he exercised at a number of California companies, including General Automation, Boschert, Systems Industries, and more, in a position he called “Itinerant President.”

Ray returned to Utah to join Novell, Inc., as president and CEO from 1983 to 1995. At Novell he spearheaded the success of Netware, the bestselling network operating system linking desktop computers to printers, file servers, and directories. While “Uncle Ray” was CEO, Novell became a giant in the computer industry. This represented the achievement of one Ray & Tye’s goals in returning to Utah: to cultivate an industrial center for entrepreneurialism and employment opportunities in their home state. As the number of employees grew from 17 to over 12,000, Ray always treated each employee with respect no matter what position they held.

Ray Noorda unassumingly earned many accolades as a business genius and technology visionary, and is widely recognized as one of the most important people in the computing industry. He is known as the “Father of Network Computing” for his technical understanding of the emerging technology, and for his business expertise in growing the networking industry to the level of ubiquity we all take for granted today. He coined the term “coopetition”, which is now part of standard business education, to represent the win-win principles propelling such industry growth. Using his innate ability to form partnerships, Ray created the model known today in the information technology industry as “the Channel,” where manufacturers and resellers grow and prosper together.

After retiring from Novell, Ray founded The Canopy Group, where he continued his personal investment in the Utah economy by fostering creation and growth of start-up companies. The Canopy Group has invested in over 100 such companies, most of them in Utah, and continues to drive technological innovation and job growth in the region.

Without fanfare, Ray also devoted his retirement years and a majority of his earnings to philanthropic giving, usually anonymously, through the LDS church and many charitable organizations. Ray founded Angel Partners and Worth of a Soul Foundation in order to facilitate his family’s charitable efforts.

Throughout his life, Ray’s primary goals have always been based on those lessons he learned as a depression-era boy: to create good jobs for as many people as can work, to provide quiet philanthropic assistance to those who cannot, and to direct any personal gains toward achieving those more-important ends.

Ray and his family lived in many places throughout the country, including Phoenix, Arizona; Schenectady, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Lynn, Massachusetts; Charlottesville, Virginia; Tustin, California; Cupertino, California; and Orem, Utah.

A wonderful sense of humor and an unassuming attitude allowed Ray to be accepted by others and to welcome others into his life in any situation, whether it was business or personal. Ray enjoyed playing baseball, tennis, and golf, and was a gifted singer and whistler.

Ray was a faithful member of the LDS church, and served in a variety of capacities. He was called to serve in a Branch Presidency and a Stake Sunday-School Presidency. With his great love of children, Ray enjoyed assisting in the Sunday School Nursery. He sang solos and with the choir in many ward programs—several congregations remember with fondness hearing Ray sing “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief”, a cappella, during church functions. He took great pleasure in supporting genealogy research and in going to the temple; in retirement, weekly temple visits with his wife become a priority and source of joy.

Ray is survived by his wife of 56 years, Tye Noorda; his sister, Edna Hill; four sons, John, Alan, Andy, and Brent; son-in-law, Robert Kreidel; 13 grandchildren, Christopher, Lauren, Kenzie, Taylor, and Raye Kreidel, Kathy Noorda-Nguyen, Megan, Alexandria, Jacob, Christian, Max, Josh and Alby Noorda; two great-grandchildren; sister-in-law, Arlene Logan; nieces, nephews, and many cousins and friends; all of whom will miss him greatly.

Ray was preceded in death by his parents, Bertus and Alida Noorda; daughter, Val Marie Kreidel; brother, Bert Noorda; and sister, Marie Hopkin.

The family wishes to express a special thanks to staff at The Courtyard at Jamestown, Hearts for Hospice, The Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, and the Timpanogos Hospital for their wonderful care.

There will be a viewing on Thursday, October 12th from 6-8 p.m. at Sundberg-Olpin Mortuary, 495 South State Street, Orem, Utah (801) 225-1530. Funeral services will be held on Friday, October 13th at 1:00 p.m. at the Sunset Heights Stake Center, 1260 S. 400 West, Orem, Utah. Viewing hours prior to the funeral will be from 11:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the Sunset Heights Stake Center.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that each one of us put in a little extra effort today to enable someone to reach their fullest potential in their work—that’s what Ray would have done.