William Archer Florac, Jr. (Bill), a son, father, programming engineer, inventor, computer scientist, and author. He was born in Chicago of English and Irish immigrants, William Archer Florac and Ida Kathleen McKeirnan, during the Great Depression on May 5, 1930, and died at the age of 93 on November 6, 2023.
From an early age, he was gregarious and always with lots of friends. He enjoyed a challenge mentally and physically. In high school, he met Marilyn Stewart, the love of his life, but she did not know it yet. It was Marilyn's grandmother, always enjoying a good banter with Bill, who nudged their relationship along. He grew up loving and playing football, and he was awarded a college football scholarship, living above the football gym locker and working in a diner. A year later, he lost his scholarship, perhaps from having too much of a good time. He then worked in a ball bearing factory until the Korean War call led him to enlist in the Air Force, where he served as an intelligence analyst and decoder of Chinese weather forecasts, which helped support flight missions over the Korean sky.
During a leave of just a few days, Bill traveled by train from Texas to Iowa, where he married Marilyn. Dressed in uniform and Marilyn in a white suit, they had a service and a small reception of cake and coffee in the church basement. Their marriage lasted for 59 years until her death.
During his time with the Air Force, the power of computers grabbed his fascination. He was honorably discharged from the military after four years, and then married, with his first child, he entered Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. After graduation, he joined IBM, which had just introduced the 701, its first large computer based on the vacuum tube…those were the days.
Bill spent 30 years developing and managing hardware and software products and received two patents for his work on time-sharing and digital computing. He had a long and successful career at IBM, during which he participated in and witnessed the many innovations that led to the many computing conveniences we use daily today. Bill retired in 1988 and began a second career as a Visiting Computer Scientist at the Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University. During this time, Bill co-authored several publications, including the book, "Measuring the Software Process: Statistical Process Control for Software Process Improvement."
While programming and computing were a large part of his life, he was always there for his family. He was a loving husband and father ready to give a comforting word or sage advice. He was quick to laugh, loved using his sharp wit for fun, and thoroughly enjoyed the antics of the family dogs. Reading about history and science and playing word games were a favorite entertainment, with Wordle and Spelling Bee being the most recent. The Giants were his team for years, and he spent many a Sunday watching the team's wins and losses. Dedicated to his children's education and public service, he served on the local school board for five years and volunteered as a poll worker annually. Bill was also a small business owner, having started MB Farms, Inc., with Marilyn, which leveraged Marilyn's talent for hybridizing miniature roses. Together, they successfully grew and distributed miniature roses to retail nurseries for many years.
Bill leaves memories of lots of hugs, a big hearty laugh, and smiling eyes with his six children: Mary Jo Babcock, Janice Cerchiara, Nancy Letteri, Bill Florac, Laura Pflugfelder, Stephanie Luciano, their spouses, his sister, Florence Cousin,13 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and his special friend over the last decade, Susan Bremer.
Family and friend visiting hours are scheduled for November 11, 2023 between 11:00 AM and noon, immediately followed by a service at Teague Funeral Service. After the service, friends and family are invited to gather for a lunch reception at Nancy and Bill Letteri's home at 1918 Browns Gap Turnpike, Charlottesville, VA.
A graveside service will occur Monday, November 13, 2023, at 11:00 AM at Monticello Memory Gardens, 670 Thomas Jefferson Parkway, Charlottesville, Virginia 22902.
The family is extremely grateful to the caregivers at Hospice who became a vital part of Bill's life over this last year, giving him sincere care and compassion.
The family requests that any donations in Bill's honor be sent to either Hospice of the Piedmont, https://hopva.org/ or Children of Vietnam, https://childrenofvietnam.org/
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.teaguefuneralhome.com for the Florac family.