Remembering Craig Jurney
at the Oshman Family JCC
on January 11, 2020 at 4:00
November 15, 1963 – November 20, 2019
I met Craig over 20 years ago when he came to work for me. He was already known to be a talented programmer, described as a real hotshot as I recall. Indeed, he was a smart, energetic and curious young man, a hard worker who quickly became integral to our team. For me he became a vital partner in design, development, architecture, engineering, who brought insights and perspectives that were key to our successes. We would spend many hours in front of a white board modeling data, planning, sometimes arguing, but always respectfully, because we shared an appreciation of the importance of details. Over time our friendship grew, and I found he approached life with the same care and zeal as his work. We skied together, rafted together, and for several years we participated in bi-weekly volleyball games with our Stanford colleagues. He was quite good, and though competitive, he was as much a gentleman on the court as off.
Anyone who knew Craig knows he was a bit of a renaissance man, a prolific reader and a sponge for knowledge. One of the great pleasures of our friendship, one that lasted well after we worked together, was simple conversation. We would occasionally meet over breakfast or for drinks at the faculty club, where topics might range from photography to history, art to politics, to obscure points of finance, to medieval French agrarian economy (true) — you never knew, and it was fun to just try to keep up.
A small story … one time we got onto the topic of artificial intelligence. This was in its early days, so we were wondering how you would program something that learned on its own, or test something whose output would evolve. This was shortly before Craig was to become a father, so naturally I asked if he was ready for fatherhood, since, like AI, he’d be dealing with new organic subroutines with minds of their own — hard to predict and harder to manage. He said something like, “yeah, maybe it is like AI. You learn what you can, you do your best, and you know you are doing something right when you get more out of it than you put in.” … a nice line … I confess I remember it because I have used it since. But I think Craig spoke a truth. He knew the power of knowledge, the value of hard work, and that investment yields rewards. But at heart he was a true optimist. Life was an adventure worthy of one’s best … and he was all in.
Add to this a wonderful hearty laugh, and that is the Craig I will remember.