Sunday, May 24, 2009

Elliot Nestle, My Brother, 1935-2009

Last Friday, my brother of whom I have seldom written, died in a hospital between Los Angeles and San Francisco, with his daughter, Robin, by his side. The last time I had seen Elliot, perhaps 7 or 8 years ago, was at Artie's Delicatessen on the Upper West Side where I took him and Robin for lunch. When we said good-bye, both Elliott and Robin clung to me, as if I was the tall mast above very rough waters. I will write more but for now, on this strange page which sends my words out to everyone and no-one, I just in the silent darkness of the letters say my brother, my 74 old brother, tormented from childhood and a tormentor of others from time to time, is no longer living.


lynchly said...

Oh, Joan, I am so sorry to hear you lost your brother. My big brother is 78. There will be no greater loss in my life. Please take comfort however you can.
Lee Lynch

Bill said...

My condolences on the loss of your brother. I worked with Elliot at Interdata for a few years starting in 1971. While I say "with your brother", the relationship was more "for your brother" as Elliot was responsible for at least part of the projects I worked on though he was not my direct supervisor.

My first project with Elliot was for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Ottawa. I have lots of memories of him from that period but the one that comes first to mind is partying with him late at night at Chez Henri in Hull, Quebec, a place he dubbed "Cheesy Henry's". We needed to unwind after long days - a schedule dictated both by computer access and project demands. By the time we were done work, Ontario was locked up tight and so we crossed the river into Hull, in Quebec with more liberal liquor laws. I'll spare you the details but it was a lot of fun to be out drinking with Elliot.

One story about Elliot and RCMP that I heard second hand came from an early pre-sales meeting. Elliot had already established a rapport with RCMP staff at a couple of meetings in Ottawa. At this first meeting in New Jersey he made a joking reference to them as "pigs", a slang and derogatory term for police from the counter-culture movement. Interdata president Dan Sinnott immediately marched Elliot out of the room with the admonition "I don't ever what to hear you use that word again with them". The first words out of Elliot's mouth when he returned was: "What can we do for you pigs?". That was typical Elliot.

The next project I worked on with Elliot was for a Ford facility in California. A few of us developers were pushing to take our spouses along for the month-long installation and testing period but the project budget would not support it. After the unanticipated departure of two developers and I had picked up the responsibility for some of their work Elliot came to me: "Well Bill, I guess we'll have to send your wife out with you to California." We had a great six weeks out there.

I remember smaller things too, like the time he went swimming in his undershorts for lack of a bathing suit at a party; daily lunches at the RBI restaurant, close to Interdata, always accompanied by a mug of beer; the time we drove from NJ to Ottawa because he thought it wouldn't take much longer than flying - Elliot and I talked a lot on that trip. I remember him mentioning having a conversation with former New York senator Jacob Javitz when sitting next to him on a flight. And I remember him introducing me to the term "Token Jew", which I regretted when I used it in an unkind way a few years later.

After Ford I don't think I worked closely with Elliot as I have few recollections beyond that. I do recall him visiting me at my home in 1977 along with another manager to try to persuade me to return to Interdata, now Perkin-Elmer, which I had left a few weeks before. That may have been the last time we talked or it could have been the one time I visited Synapse as I seem to recall that I saw him then. Either way, it was a long time ago. A desire to reconnect led me to a web search for his name and the sad news of his passing.

Again, I'm sorry.
Bill Wetzel

Pete Pope said...

How sad. Since I am travelling out to the West coast, I figured I'd look Elliot up - the last time we couldn't seem to work a visit out - what sad news to hear.

I knew Elliot because he was a very good friend of my father's - who also worked at Interdata at one time (and EAI, Perkin-Elmer and did some consulting work with Concurrent Computers, etc.). I remember going over Elliots house as a very young kid for picnics and things. I remember his ex-wife - Carol, I think.

My father used to tell me a lot of funny stories about how engineering was in the 60's and 70's - I was afraid I missed out. He told me a lot of stories about Elliot as Vice President at Perkin-Elmer and his inability to follow a corporate dress code.

When I was in college, my dad and Elliot had arranged for me to work a summer at Synapse - unfortunately the company promptly went out of business before I could get over there. My life would have probably been changed forever (I'd probably have a positive view of California or maybe even live there).

Unfortunately my dad passed away several years ago. I'm imagining my dad and Elliot up there enjoying a few cold ones.

Pete Pupalaikis

barbara hasper said...

My husband Carl Hasper and Elliot went to City College and worked at American Airlines in the 1060s. We loved Elliot and were real close friends. He married a girl named Carol and then moved to Bell Labs in NJ and later to Califonia. He majored in electrical engineering. When we looked him, he had married Sylvia and was very happy. Please let me know how he died and from what? He was always funny. We are so sorry for your loss. Please let us know if this Elliot is the same Elliot who lived in Flushing with us.
Barbara and Carl Hasper
e-mail address is .Our address is
48 Ford Drive West, Massapequa, NY11758

Anonymous said...

It was a shock to read of Elliot's passing. He was one of the few who always seemed bigger than life.
I too worked with Elliot at Interdata out in Santa Clara California starting in about 1974-5where I was the field service manager for the Northwest US. His offices there was next to mine but we had more of a personal relationship rather than one of business.
We were scuba diving buddies for about 3 years and would take our families (Carol was always with us) to Monterey where we would dive off the coast. He was an excellent and safe diver and after a while we became very comfortable in diving together. Seemed we always knew where the other one was. Unfortunately we were together when a new diver who asked to dive with us lost his life at Monastery Beach when he panicked in about 25 feet of water. Neither one of us dove much after that terrible accident.

I will never forget your brothers voice or laugh and his love for his family.
Les Stevens