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  • User Group Community Loses a Legend, Al Wromke

    Posted on August 25th, 2009 HandyAndy 9 comments


    Al Wromke half a lifetime ago

    Al Wromke half a lifetime ago

    Friday my friend Al Wromke passed away. If I have ever bailed you out of a jam or showed you how to solve a problem, then please take a moment to look up and thank AL. For it was he who got me involved in the user group community back in the early 90’s, when I walked into a SVCS meeting at HP in Cupertino. He took me under his wing as he did with so many others, and showed us how being part of the UG community was one of the most rewarding things one could do.  Al was always there to help anyone in need, whether he knew them forever or just met them at that moment. I always looked forward to seeing him on my trips back to the valley and I will sure miss having breakfast with him next month when I get into town.

    Our old friend Coline MacLean sent this note out about Al’s passing and Fred Townsend long time Leader of SVCS sent it out to the membership; allow me to share her words here.


    Members and Friends of SVCS:


     From Coline MacLean we receive this information:


    Al Wromke passed away today. He had lung cancer. He only lasted two

    weeks after the detection and most of that was spent in a catatonic

    state. He died at the Veterans hospital in Palo Alto. Very sad.


    Al returned to Silicon Valley from El Paso in June. He was trying to get

    re-established and did not seem to be in ill health. He had lost lots of

    weight but said he had been dieting and exercising. During the last

    three weeks the complaints of joint pain and the inability to sleep

    started. He went to the VA center in Palo Alto with little

    satisfaction. Al was then hospitalized.


    Within a few days, the bad news of renal dysfunction, lung cancer and

    God knows what else. They immediately told him to get his affairs in

    order, which knowing AL, as we do, know that getting anything in order

    was not Al’s strong suit. Al’s relatives were called, almost too late as

    AL didn’t want them called. 


    AL’s body is being shipped back home to NJ, where the family will have

    a service on Friday and bury him next to his parents.


    He was a good person. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone and

    he would give you the shirt off his back or anything he had if you

    needed it. He was always on the outlook for opportunities for his

    friends and he was constantly creating wild business opportunities,

    which benefited mostly other people. The world is a lesser place

    without him.


    … c

    Fred Townsend

    I leave you with the immortal words of Al Wromke, “Can You Send Me A Copy To Review”
    Good Bye Al, We Will All Miss You,


    9 responses to “User Group Community Loses a Legend, Al Wromke” RSS icon

    • I have quite fond memories of Al; he was an early contributor at Open Country, and always brought brightness into the room with him. That, and a little zaniness too.

      I don’t know whether these words of his would qualify as immortal, but they were certainly accurate: “Beware of any demo that actually works the first time”

      I’m sure he’s currently helping heaven out with a few upgrades.

      ‘Bye, Al…

    • I first met Al at the Smart Life Forum probably a decade ago, where we shared an interest in nutrition and alternative health. We had talked about several business opportunites in nanotechnology and health (Alzheimer’s therapy), but lost touch until this year. Within days, we were collaborating on ways to launch a new gold-mining technology. Al was an unashamed neophile. His enthusiasm for new ideas and working with very smart and talented people made him wonderful teammate. He was a blessing to the world on many levels. He is missed.

    • Thanks Andy for posting Al’s picture I sent out and to you and Fred for your kind words. Al was a very special and caring person. I have received many heartwarming comments from Al’s friends how he touched so many lives. Al’s unique personality will truly be missed by all and I especially will miss our frequent phone calls which always left my sister and I laughing long after we hung up. He made our lives brighter and hopefully we did the same for him. I was proud to have him as a brother and thank God he was part of my life.

    • Sept 16 th I attended Mike Coffey’s well put together event at IHOP for Al Wromke.
      Al was my old 1999 to 2001 era buddy to all web and computer events in Silicon Valley. We were all moved to remember a person that was quite remarkable for acting as a catalyst for both life long important relationships and ideas. I helped Al on a couple of his start ups and he helped me do the same as well.

      Many people pass through our lives but I have never met anyone like Al since meeting him – I suspect he is a Silicon Valley original. He will be truly missed by many including myself.

    • I was working at Waldenbooks in early 1988 when I applied for a job at Votrax-Berkeley Systems Technology, a TTS software-development company that later became Acuvoice, Inc. The position had been filled but I was hired two months later when the position was open again. I was interviewed and hired by the one-and-only Al Wromke.

      Al’s official title was Editor in charge of the sound editing department but might as well have been the vice president and chief counsel because Dave Barton (president) always asked for and closely listened to his advice on all matters. He had worked with Al earlier in the 80’s and knew he was the guy to corral a bunch of younger people of varying abilities and temperments. Al was also the one who met with hardware suppliers and negotiated numerous deals to get the company the equipment it needed at the best price possible.

      Al had been a salesman previously but he used his sales skills, some innate, for good. He could talk to anybody and was well-informed on just about any topic (politics, business, science, etc.). He knew when to cut into a conversation and when to blend into the background. If you were paying attention to what he was doing, you knew he could be the master of any situation. He was brilliant man and I learned a lot from him.

      The company went through some tough times in the early 90’s and at some point Al officially left the company but I still don’t know when because he still came in to help Dave even when he wasn’t getting paid and it appeared the company was not going to survive.

      Al and I worked for a time at White Eagle, the company that produced the “American Heritage Talking Dictionary,” which Al was very proud of.

      In 1998 the company was sold to Fonix Corp. for big bucks.

      I saw less of Al but he still came in from time to time after sale and new people started running things.

      In 2001 Fonix let me go (the last of the Acuvoice employees) after they closed the office and I was later hired by Javatell, a company ran by a friend and former Acuvoice engineer, Willie Lagunzad, who was also mentored by Al. He would come by the office there too and deliver his usual pep-talks and news from various trade shows and seminars he always attended.

      The last time I saw Al was when we helped a friend move about four years ago. Al kept me updated with emails but then I heard less from him last summer. By the time Willie had heard Al was in the hospital, he had died.

      Al wasn’t world-famous but a lot of people seemed to have heard of him. Everyone who met him was happy to see him later. He always had a joke or a story from the road. His advice was always sound. I miss my friend Al. He was a good guy.

    • I only knew Al for a short time… I met him in El Paso, when he came down to help out with a start up company. Al and I worked together, mostly him giving me advice and me doing the grunt work. I learned alot from Al and he ended up staying with me until his return to California. Sadly, I missed his memorial and I have since moved on to a new company, but I took with me and carry all the Al-isms that I can remember. Al taught me the “rule of 5″…. when I asked him to explain, he told me that I had to keep at least five irons in the fire at all times because 80% of what we are working on will fail….. I follow his words to the letter and what do you know… it works… thank you Al..I miss you my friend…


    • I wish to express my sorrow for Al Wromke passing on. I met Al while working at Acuvoice. My apologies for posting 2 years late but I just happened across this announcement by accident. I was trying to find out if my Acuvoice stock certificate was worth anything. Funny thing is that I know its worthless but something made me to search on it. Once I read about Al I realized why I searched so relentlessly even after I found information confirming the stock certificate was worthless. It was to learn about Al’s passing.

      What I remember about Al is that so much positive energy emanated from him that it filled the room and everyone in it felt the charge. When he walked in the door it was like someone turned the volume knob up from 2 to 10. Full blast baby and he always lead in with a funny joke. Even though he passed on, it’s hard to be sad when I think about him. I just remember laughing when he was around.

      RIP Al Wromke.

    • I am sorry to learn about Al’s passing. We worked together briefly at AcuVoice. I came across his business card recently while cleaning up some old files in my office, and wondered what had become of him. Clearly, he continued to touch a lot of lives and to be a force for good. As the Greeks say, may his memory be eternal.

    • Al was one of my most interesting Friends. Beloved friends.. He somehow ended up in my Hometown of Kansas City and we met and remained friends till I lost track of him a few years back….his life lessons to me were good attitude at all times..a sense of joy ……and most importantly sharing and generosity…..I still wear the giant Norwegian sheepskin military coat he gave me when he moved to San Jose… I want you to have this…..I won’t need it in Calif…..he will be missed..sorely missed RIP Honest Al RIP

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