Remembering Those We’ve Lost

Remembering Francis X. McAfee

Remembering Francis X. McAfee

February 26, 1963 – February 3, 2022

“Fran inspired me to challenge myself as an artist. He had such an immense impact on my life.” 

“I was a student, friend, and colleague for many years. Fran helped change my life as a young student and helped me grow as a man by setting a quiet example.”

A long time ACM SIGGRAPH volunteer and associate professor of Digital Media in the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies at Florida Atlantic University, Fran is remembered as an exceptional teacher, mentor and friend.

Upon completing both his BA and MFA from FAU, Fran joined the newly established Florida Center for Electronic Communication. As Associate Director of the CEC in 1998, he supervised all aspects of digital video production and 3D computer visualization projects. Fran’s grant funded projects included collaborations with Florida International University’s International Hurricane Research Center, the Centre for the Arts at Mizner Park, and archaeological visualization of soon to be lost ancient tombs in Sicily. His computer animated vision of clean energy technologies, under development by FAU’s Ocean Engineering department, played a key role in landing the new Center for Ocean Energy Technology.

ACM SIGGRAPH was also fortunate to have Fran as an active volunteer.  In addition to serving as the chair for the Professional and Student Chapters Committee and on the ACM SIGGRAPH Executive Committee as Director for Chapters, he was also a key leader of the Fort Lauderdale professional chapter.  Most importantly, Fran was a beloved mentor to his students and many other young people who have become important contributors to the SIGGRAPH community and the computer graphics industry.

Fran was a born teacher who worked with students from all ages and backgrounds, including junior and high school students interested in STEM, undergraduates beginning their academic journeys and graduate students he inspired as a scholar and an artist.

Fran won numerous awards and international recognition for his work, but the legacy he leaves is as an exceptional and loving husband and father, proud grandfather, calm, thoughtful and kind friend, beloved colleague and supportive teacher and mentor.

Remembering Frederick P. Brooks Jr.

Remembering Frederick P. Brooks Jr.

Fred Brooks, April 19, 1931 – November 17, 2022

It is with great sorrow that ACM SIGGRAPH marks the loss of Dr. Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., a pioneer in the field of computer science, a recipient of the ACM A.M. Turing Award, an inaugural recipient of the US National Medal of Technology, and member of the SIGGRAPH Academy.

Fred Brooks grew up in North Carolina, graduated summa cum laude in physics from Duke University, and earned his PhD in applied mathematics at Harvard University. He joined IBM upon graduation. In the broader computer science community, Brooks is best known for his role as project manager for the IBM System/360 family of computers which were notable as all, largest to smallest, could run the same software.  When the development of the Operating Systems/360 software was behind schedule, Brooks assumed management of that project.  For his work on the System/360 hardware and software, Brooks shared the first National Medal of Technology with Bob Evans and Erich Bloch. 

Brooks recorded his experiences and lessons learned on the OS/360 project in his best-known book, The Mythical Man Month: Essays in Software Engineering.  This book is a standard reference for practical software engineering and is where he coined Brooks’ Law that adding personnel to a software project that is behind schedule delays it even more.  He also coined the term computer architecture and, by choosing it for the System/360 family, he established the 8-bit byte as standard in the computing industry.

Dr. Brooks joined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1964, where he founded the Department of Computer Science, the second free-standing CS department in the United States.  He served as department chair for 20 years and continued teaching and research for another 31 years. His research focussed on 3D interactive computer graphics, human-computer interaction, virtual reality, computer architecture, and the design process.  Brooks’ promoted the idea of computer scientists as toolsmiths, encouraging his students and colleagues to develop computer technology that could be applied to help other people solve their problems.

Dr. Brooks was honored with dozens of academic and scientific awards.  More than 40 students completed their doctorates under his supervision and he was recognized as an extraordinary role model and mentor for his academic and research colleagues and many members of the SIGGRAPH community.

Fred Brooks’ substantial contributions to the field of computer graphics and interactive techniques, the influence of that work through the development of new research and innovations, and his role as an active member of the SIGGRAPH community were recognized by his induction as a member of the SIGGRAPH Academy in 2019.

Dr. Brooks, a committed Christian, will be remembered for his humility, generosity, and kindness. The SIGGRAPH community will miss his smile and good humor, his research contributions, and his wisdom.

Note:  Dr. Brooks always used the Oxford comma because he liked that it eliminated potential ambiguity.  Even though it goes against the SIGGRAPH style guide, we have, in his honor, used the Oxford comma in this memorial.

Remembering Jackie White

Remembering Jackie White

April 22, 1949 – October 7, 2021

Mentor.  Mother.  Sister.  Grandmother.  Volunteer.  Cake decorator extraordinaire.  Award winner.  Family genealogy researcher.  We remember Jackie White for being all of these things, but most of all for leaving a tremendous legacy for her family, her community and for SIGGRAPH.

A true California girl, Jackie was born and raised in Monterey Park, California.  She attended Mission High School in San Gabriel where she was very active in the drum and bugle corps.  The oldest of 5 children, she had two younger sisters and two younger brothers and was also very close to her cousins Jim and Tommy, who were closer to her age than her 3 youngest siblings.  Jackie’s son, Chris Sawtelle, believes that Jackie thought of Jim and Tommy as brothers rather than cousins. And sadly, Jackie missed being a great-grandmother by just 2 months as her great-grandson, Marcos, was born in December 2021. 

Jackie worked in the Art Department for many years at Cal State LA, where she was honoured in 2001 with a Women of Distinction award that recognized achievements in her field, significant contributions to Cal State LA, commitment to students, commitment to women’s issues, community involvement, and professional recognition.

It was while she was at Cal State LA that her friend and colleague, Patric Prince, asked her to help with an art show she was chairing for a computer graphics organization. Little did Jackie know that this support of a friend would result in thirty years of volunteering with SIGGRAPH!

After working on the SIGGRAPH ’86 Art Show with Patric, Jackie continued as a SIGGRAPH volunteer, working on the traveling art show and, in 1989, joining the Education Committee where she was responsible for the Education Committee Newsletter.

In 1997, Scott Owen, Chair of SIGGRAPH 97, invited Jackie to chair the first conference Community Outreach program. Based on the tremendous success of including more than 1,900 local teachers and students to that program, as well as her previous contributions to the organization, the Conference Advisory Group (CAG) chose Jackie to chair the SIGGRAPH 2000 Conference in New Orleans. As part of her role as a conference chair, Jackie served on the CAG for five years, then became CAG Chair in 2005-2011 and 2012-2013, and served as CAG Chair representative to the SIGGRAPH Executive Committee in 2011-2012. She was also special sessions chair for SIGGRAPH 2002, special sessions committee member for SIGGRAPH 2003, and a member of the panels jury in 2005.

In addition to her work on the annual SIGGRAPH conference, Jackie worked tirelessly to help establish SIGGRAPH Asia and ensure its success.  In her position as CAG Chair, she ensured that the CAG and the newly formed SACAG worked together in a cooperative fashion and served in various capacities on the SACAG from initial advisor, to acting SACAG chair, and then SACAG committee member 2007-2016. She served as the EC representative to the SACAG from 2012-2016.

In 2019, Jackie was presented with the 2019 Outstanding Service Award for her long-term dedicated service to ACM SIGGRAPH.

Though her work at Cal State LA and her substantial contributions to SIGGRAPH kept her very busy, Jackie’s first love was her family.  She was truly dedicated to family genealogy research and spent hours online searching for factoids about her ancestors and identifying new ones.  She produced several books for her family that documented her research in a form they could enjoy. And when she learned that one of her ancestors was the “rackmaster” at the Tower of London, her family took her on a trip to London to visit the tower and to see the towns their ancestors had lived in. 

Jackie loved geocaching and playing Pokémon Go everywhere she went – regardless of what continent she was on. Jackie’s son, Chris, recalls that she would often ask him to slow down at intersections so she could “hop into a gym” as they went by. In Singapore in the late 2000’s, she pleasantly surprised the then-new SIGGRAPH Asia conference organizers by hauling them around their city-state to places they had never been, in search of geocaches.  Her group excursions to out-of-the-way places with the “perfect gym” at SIGGRAPH conferences became the stuff of legend.

When not hunting for GPS-based prizes, Jackie found plenty of other ways to explore the world.  Whether on safari in the jungles of Borneo, eating her way through the night markets of Hong Kong, or exploring the mountains of Kobe, Japan, Jackie made friends around the globe, and was never one to turn down an adventure. Not many people can say they had their feet nibbled at a “fish spa” with computer graphics legends Don Greenberg and Rob Cook!

No tribute to Jackie would be complete without mention of her remarkable skills as a cake decorator.  As with every project Jackie undertook, she pursued this hobby with great passion to produce extraordinary cakes for her friends and family. 

SIGGRAPH is grateful to Jackie’s family for sharing her time, talent and passion with us over her many years of contributing to so many aspects of the organization.  Jackie truly was an outstanding volunteer, mother, sister and community member and we are all lucky to have known and loved her.

Memories of Chuck Csuri

Memories of Chuck Csuri

Wayne Carlson,  SIGGRAPH Pioneer

The computer graphics world, and indeed the entire world, lost a great friend and colleague this week. Charles ‘Chuck’ Csuri passed away just months from his 100th birthday. Chuck retired from a distinguished and exemplary career at the Ohio State University, but his influence has been felt far beyond the boundaries of the campus. In the last few days I have read several postings memorializing Chuck, and many wonderful comments from former students and people from the multiple disciplines that he touched with his contributions.

I was fortunate to work with him for nearly 20 years, first as a graduate student in his lab, then as a VP at his commercial computer graphics company, and ultimately as his successor in the academic program and research facility that he created. His mentorship defined my own academic career in computer graphics, and I am forever grateful to him.

Chuck was born in 1922 on the 4th of July in West Virginia and was always proud of his Hungarian roots. He graduated from Fine Arts at Ohio State, where a friend and classmate, and later fellow faculty member, was Roy Lichtenstein.

Chuck’s choice to attend Ohio State is interesting in its own right. In his own words, he was “a skinny kid that was growing into a bigger body” and was a pretty good football player at Cleveland West Tech. An assistant coach at OSU was friends of his high school coach at Tech, and saw him play. He convinced Chuck that he might be able to be successful playing for the Buckeyes while he pursued his art degree. He ended up as a three-year letterman at tackle, playing for legendary coach Paul Brown, played on the school’s first national championship team in 1942, and earned All American and MVP honors. The following year he was selected in the 1944 NFL Draft by the Chicago Cardinals, but instead of playing in the NFL he served the next three years in the Army, and fought in the 1944 Battle of the Bulge in WWII.

When he returned to the states, the Army assigned him to an engineering school for training, and his interest in combining the aesthetics of art with issues in the world of engineering was piqued. This interest in interdisciplinary relations permeated his career from that point on. He got his graduate degree in Art and joined the faculty, and became interested in how he could use the computer to realize his visions from the first time he was introduced to this emerging technology. In the early 1960s he began experimenting in this realm and in his words, was “hooked”.

In the late 1960s, Chuck created the Computer Graphics Research Group (CGRG) using funding from a grant from the National Science Foundation. This funding, and subsequent grants, allowed him to create amazing images over the following years, including a computer generated movie, “Hummingbird”, now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. One of his early pieces, “Random War”, was influenced by his experiences in the Army, and depicts the idiocy and randomness of death in battle.

The makeup of the members of CGRG matched his desire to put people from diverse disciplines together to advance his vision of creating artistic artifacts with the aid of the computer. Mathematicians worked with designers, with statisticians and engineers, and with artists and computer scientists. This interdisciplinary interaction brought us together. I had earned degrees in theoretical mathematics, but had become enamored with the things that a computer could bring to the discipline, so I headed to Ohio State from my home state of Idaho to do a PhD in computer science. One evening I attended a lecture by an artist who was using the computer as an artistic tool. I stayed after and talked for the next hour with that artist, Chuck Csuri.

I got a call not long after that from one of Chuck’s students. Chuck was looking for a mathematician to help with a grant that he had received from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research that provided funding to develop software to visualize the stresses on the wings of Air Force fighters at high speeds, and he remembered our conversation. Our relationship began with that call, and I soon joined his lab.

The next five years saw my fellow graduate students in the lab pushing the boundaries of cgi and computer animation. We developed software and hardware solutions and published our results, all in the progressive environment of interdisciplinary study fostered by Chuck as the director of the lab. It wasn’t always easy… Chuck might come into the lab in the morning saying “I want to be able to render artistic smoke clouds” or “I would like to see galaxies interact with each other, represented by millions of stars in each”. We’d look at our PDP 11-45 computer and swallow hard, but we would find a way to do it. It was Chuck’s energetic desire to push the limits that drove our contributions to the discipline.

Chuck had a way of quietly connecting with other researchers and labs across the country, and indeed, around the world. I don’t know how he did it, but he found a way to set aside enough cash to support every member of the lab to attend the SIGGRAPH conference every year. We would learn so much from the technical sessions, but the real advantage was meeting well into the night with other researchers, exchanging ideas and video tapes, and generating immeasurable energy that would impact us the entire year until the next conference.

In 1981 Chuck realized a personal goal of obtaining funding to take what we did in the lab to create a commercial computer animation company, and he asked me to join in that venture. Cranston/Csuri Productions created commercial animation for various clients over the next almost seven years. The necessary environment with artists and technologists working together in a company of this type was a natural extension of what we did in Chuck’s lab, and greatly contributed to the company’s success.

The company was co-located with CGRG in offices on the edge of campus, and the symbiotic relationship benefitted both organizations. Staying engaged with the University, Chuck succeeded in finally creating a formal academic program in computer graphics and computer art. Called the Advanced Computing Center in the Arts and Design, or ACCAD, it has become one of the premiere graduate programs in the country. I was honored to be chosen to succeed Chuck as the director of the program when he “retired” in 1990. We were able to acquire permanent funding that provided space in the lab and personnel to assist Chuck in the continuation of his creative ventures, which he did until his death.

Throughout his years at the University, Chuck navigated the politics within the University and the skepticism of the kind of cross-disciplinary environments that defined his activities. He eventually convinced faculty and administrators of the value of his vision, and in 2000 achieved the highest recognition of all of his various accomplishments. He received the Ohio Governor’s Award for the Arts, and Ohio State’s Joseph Sullivant Medal in acknowledgment of his lifetime achievements in the fields of digital art and computer animation. In 2006, ACM-SIGGRAPH arranged a retrospective of his career’s work titled Beyond Boundaries, and in 2011 they bestowed upon him the Award for Lifetime Achievement in Digital Art. Beyond Boundaries then travelled to different art museums and sites around the world. In 2014, he received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from the Ohio State University College of Arts and Sciences.

I know many of his students and colleagues that benefited from his energy and insight that are currently in universities, cgi labs, and companies around the world will remember Chuck Csuri forever. He was preceded in death in 2019 by his artist wife of 70 years, Lee, who he always referred to as his best friend, and his son Steven in 2018. His daughter Caroline and his two granddaughters Hannah and Emily Reagh continue to contribute to his legacy. A memorial statement from Ohio State indicates that donations and gifts in Chuck’s name are requested to be directed to his favorite charity, the Special Olympics. His website and instagram account will remain active, and condolences can be left at either.

OSU Oral History Project, June 2003,

Charles A. Csuri: Beyond Boundaries 1963-Present,

A Tribute to Stephen R. Levine

A Tribute to Stephen R. Levine

Maxine D. Brown
January 7, 2022

Steve Levine at SIGGRAPH '79
Steve Levine at SIGGRAPH 79

Steve Levine was a ‘force of nature’ who, in the 70s, greatly impacted the growth and sustainability of the ACM SIGGRAPH organization and conference and took a chance on me, a volunteer recruit fresh out of grad school, enabling me to contribute in ways I best could. It is with heavy heart that I write the SIGGRAPH community that my long-time friend and mentor passed away on November 12, 2021 at age 81 from Parkinson’s disease.

Steve was the SIGGRAPH 77 General Conference Chair as well as the SIGGRAPH organization’s Treasurer from 1975- 77 and Vice Chair from 1977-79. His most significant contribution, in my humble opinion, was starting the conference’s exponential growth, from 300 attendees in 1976, to 750 in 1977, to 3,000 by 1979. He did this in collaboration with Jim George, his Stanford University graduate school friend who served as the SIGGRAPH 77 Program Chair, as well as the SIGGRAPH’s organization’s Secretary from 1975-77 and Chair from 1977-81. Steve, a member of the graphics group at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), got several work colleagues involved with the conference, including George Michael, a computational scientist – and George Michael subsequently adopted conference innovations that we nurtured for the burgeoning computer graphics community when he became Chair of the first ACM/IEEE Supercomputing (SC) Conference in 1988.

I met Steve at the SIGGRAPH 76 conference – my first, but SIGGRAPH’s third. I had just moved to California’s Bay Area for a new job and learned that SIGGRAPH 77 was to be held in San Jose. Steve invited me to be on the organizing committee as Local Arrangements Co-chair.

Steve changed the paradigm of an academic conference, transforming SIGGRAPH into a ‘happening.’ He also made sure that committee members, who did not all know one another, had opportunities to bond at planning meetings in San Jose, organizing lunches or dinners at nice restaurants, given he had a passion for food and was a gourmet cook.

In addition to offering attendees top-quality tutorial/workshops and a technical program that promoted original work and unusual or unique applications and techniques, Steve found and empowered committee members to create a variety of off-scale conference venues:

  • An industry exhibition with 38 vendors held in the conference hotel’s ballroom (versus 1976, that had 10 vendors with tables on which they put product literature) – organized by Ray de Saussure, LLNL
  • Special sessions on low-cost graphics (Apple was founded in 1976 and IBM PCs weren’t invented yet!) and raster graphics (raster was new tech then!) – organized by Bill Etra of the New School for Social Research and William Newman of Xerox PARC, respectively
  • Poster session with software demonstrations – organized by Tom Wright of NCAR and Dan Weller of IBM • Fashion show, where the clothing’s fabric patterns and/or weave were designed with computers – organized by Joe Scala of Syracuse University
  • Film and video show (billed as a “Media Spectacular”) that utilized state-of-the-art, large-format, audio/visual technologies – organized by Tom DeFanti of University of Illinois Chicago Steve Levine at SIGGRAPH 79
  • Closed circuit TV to view films and videos in one’s hotel room – organized by Patsy Scala of Collaboration in Art, Science and Technology, Inc.
  • Social events (a wine & cheese party and a barbeque held poolside at the hotel)

Steve also insisted on conference T-shirts, but since we couldn’t afford to make T-shirts in advance and, even if we could, we didn’t know if anyone would buy them, we instead made decals of the SIGGRAPH 77 logo (also a first for SIGGRAPH!), took orders by day, and ironed them onto T-shirts at night for pick-up the following day!

Tom DeFanti, the SIGGRAPH 77 Media Spectacular Chair, recalls, “Steve believed that projecting computer graphics on large screens was as equally inspiring as reading about advancements in the proceedings, and empowered me to bring a crew of skilled audio/visual artists to assist, and who become the SIGGRAPH conferences’ first media techs.”

After 1977, Steve and Jim wanted to maintain the momentum of a large industry exhibition and drafted me to help them do this for SIGGRAPH 79, co-chaired by Tom DeFanti and Bruce McCormick. We had 80 vendors – and moved the event from a hotel ballroom into an exhibition hall adjacent to the hotel.

Also in 1979, Steve introduced the SIGGRAPH Slide Set, which contained about 80 slides from academics, researchers, artists, and industry, showcasing the latest and greatest computer graphics applications and techniques, in full color, for educational use. Steve continued to develop the slide set annually for many years, and later distributed the images on microfiche as well. SIGGRAPH 79 produced the first conference poster, which featured Steve’s collected slide set, and many thousands of posters were distributed. Some were framed and are still on people’s walls, myself included!

The excitement of the ’77 conference inspired future conference chairs to expand upon the week’s happenings and attract new and diverse user communities. Jim George reflects on his long-time friend, “I attribute the concept of making this small academic society a major force to lead the industry as Steve’s dream, later transformed into a true partnership of art, science, technology and business. Steve and I started on this path and various contributors joined us – and Tom and Maxine contributed more than most. As leadership, our strength was creating a welcoming environment for people to contribute, irrespective of their credentials and professional reputations, as we were looking for ideas and recognizing their contributions whether they be organizational, educational, artistic or scientific.”

As the SIGGRAPH 92 General Chair, I enlisted the help of my mentor. Steve, who was an outstanding pianist, organized SIGband and served as the band’s leader. We invited a few computer-graphics colleagues who played musical instruments to perform for attendees during the papers/panels reception.

For Steve’s 80th birthday party, in May 2020, held via Zoom due to COVID, Jim and I participated. Steve was happy to see us. In particular, he told me that I was an important part of his life – but the truth is, his invitation to help with SIGGRAPH 77 changed both our lives. Steve brought out the best in me and put me on my path to life-long friends, a successful career, and years of distinguished service to SIGGRAPH, for which I received the first SIGGRAPH Outstanding Service Award in 1998.

“The early SIGGRAPH conferences highlighted many innovations in the industry, and it still does,” concludes Jim George, “and that is Steve’s legacy.”

Many thanks to Jim George and Tom DeFanti for their input on this Tribute to Steve Levine. Steve leaves behind a wife, Stephanie Moore, and two daughters.

For those who wish to honor him, the family requests that donations be made to the “The MGH Parkinson’s and Lewy Body Fund” at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) where he was treated and where he volunteered for research studies. Donations can be mailed or made online.

Mail: Attention: Kylie Wojcicki Massachusetts General Hospital Development Office 125 Nashua Street, Suite 540 Boston, MA 02114 ** Indicate that the donation is a tribute gift in honor of Stephen R. Levine.**

Online: Click GIVE NOW. Click the pull-down box “Make this gift a tribute to” and specify “In Honor of Stephen R. Levine”. Click the pull-down box “Optional: Please send a notification of my gift” to inform Steve’s wife, as she very much wants to thank everyone who donates: Stephanie Moore, PO Box 2090, Andover, MA 01810 At the bottom of the page, click the pull-down box “Designate this gift to a specific program or area” and specify: The MGH Parkinson’s and Lewy Body Fund in honor of Stephen R. Levine

Should you have any Steve stories and/or photos you wish to share with Stephanie, please send to Maxine Brown and I will share with her.

Steve Levine at SIGGRAPH 77 wearing the
conference T-shirt as he gets ready to change into
clothes to model during the Fashion Show event.
Steve Levine (upper right) with (clockwise) Maxine Brown,
Jim George and Tom DeFanti at SIGGRAPH 84.
SIGGRAPH 92 SIGband with band leader Steve Levine
at piano and volunteer musicians and singers.