``It will be pleasing to us to remember these things hereafter.''

Stories about gus Baird and gus-isms

(Contributed by alumni and gus' students)

NOTE: This page is still under construction!

What follows is a collection of mail that I received with comments about gus, stories about gus, stories that gus told his students, and those infamous colorful quotes of his. Thanks to all those who shared their thoughts. I hope they bring as much cheer to you as they did me!

- Annie Anton

From: Jeff Groves (July 26, 1993)

Gus was my advisor the last couple of quarters before I graduated, and my prof for my assembler class.

He definately had a way of helping you keep your chin up and see the bright side of life.

Jeff G.

From: Kishore Ramachandran (to Annie & Vernard) (July 27, 1993)

Subject: that was really touching
To: vernard@cc.gatech.edu
Cc: anton@cc.gatech.edu

While the suddenness of Gus's death affected me, the impact of his death never hit me until I heard you and Annie speak. My heart felt heavy as I listened to you both and there were tears in my eyes that I struggled to control, but at the same time there was also the lightness as I realized that Gus's life was not wasted!



From: Drew Hobson (July 26, 1993)

Quote ``Like my old army leutinent used to say, 'Ain't nothin' simple when you're doin' it for real.'''


" I was riding my motorcycle to Tech on some back roads up in north Atlanta. These were nice curvy roads and I had 'em down so I knew in what gear and at what RPM the tachometer had to be to take the curves. One day I was driving and I heard a "ping." So I stopped, looked at my spokes. You know, something gets in your spokes and you're gone. Nothing. I looked at the tires. Nothing. I looked at the engine. Nothing. I looked at the spokes again.

I took my helmet off and ...

There was a brown smudge on the top. I looked around and they had moved the telephone poles in real close to the road so when I leaned into the curve ...

Heh Heh. It made a ping. An inch either way and it's a totally different outcome. "

That is as good as I can remember it. I home I haven't munged the details.


From: Keith Edwards (July 26, 1993)

Hi Annie,
I TA'ed for gus for a year and a half (ICS 2601). I wish at the time that I had written down everything he said that was funny or profound; there definately would have been enough to fill a book.

[deleted misc. stories for brevity ... all off which were included in the eulogy ... thank you Keith! ]

I remember once when the VAXstation lab was first set up. I was complaining that the machines were monochrome. Gus immediately replied, ``Color's for end-users.'' Typical gus quote... (And by the way, he always wrote his name "gus," not "Gus" (lower-case "g")).

Gus was definately the best *teacher* I had in my career at Tech, and also the best advisor. He really took the time and honestly cared about each of his students.


From: David Pope (July 26, 1993)

``...and if you don't think that the coding of the Read statement is much to look at, I'll stick it up on the wall over there and make you stare at it until you _DIE_!!!''

- gus, on the complexity of Pascal

From: Robin Murphy (July 27, 1993)

Gus Baird was what I think of as an "everyday" prof. Not everyday as in ordinary. Everyday as in every day he showed his love and respect for his students. Long after we finished his freshman courses, he would remember our names, our interests, and dreams and stop US to ask what we were doing. And when I'd tell him about my latest project or groan about my workload, he'd just smile with that knowing smile that said "See? I knew you'd be doing something hard and worthwhile and interesting." Those seemingly everyday casual encounters have influenced me, and others, for the better. The world is a lonelier place without Gus and I pray that I can have half the impact on my students as he did on his.


From: David Zobel (July 27, 1993)


This is my all time favorite:

``If you aren't better programmers than me when you graduate then I haven't done my job. ''

David Zobel
A better programmer because of Gus Baird (1411/2601/2301)

From: Paul Goodwin (July 27, 1993)

``I'm telling you, that sucker ran like a strip-ed ape!''

From: Keith Edwards (July 27, 1993)

One other thing that I remember is that gus still had his Rat Cap from his freshman year at Tech. He kept it in his office. Man that thing was OLD and it really had some mileage on it. But he was proud of it and I thought it was cool that he kept it around to show to students.

From: Glenn R. Stone (July 27, 1993)

"..... the way God intended it....." (as in, the Right Way to do something)

"Don't whoops your cookies when you see that..."

"A gentleman is someone who never unintentionally offends anybody."

Whenever an eraser would end up chalkier than the board, he would fire it over in the corner, eliciting a large cloud of chalk dust....

-- Glenn Stone (glenns@eas.gatech.edu)
ICS '90

From: Lisa Moore (July 27, 1993)


I remember as a freshman in 1411 I went to him with a problem I couldn't figure out. My program wouldn't compile. So I go into his office and he looks at my program and says "What did you do?" So, showing my inexperience, I say, "I added comments and now it doesn't compile." He looks at me with that look like "do you realize what you just said". Then the obvious hits me. Misplaced bracket. Boy did I feel stupid. As I try to exit gracefully from his office, he begins making comments allowed, "You freshman. You're like young horses. We put you in a fence with enough padding and you still manage to hurt yourselves..." Then I hear a BIG laugh as I'm walking down the hall. I'm going to miss that laugh.


From: I know he'll be sorely missed there at CoC, and my sympathies go out to you all.
From: Jonathan Newton (to
Vernard Martin) (July 29, 1993)


My name is Jonathan Newton. I'm David Newton's twin brother and the brother of Chris and Greg Newton (we all had Gus at one point).

David e-mailed me about Gus, and he said that if I had a message for the Baird family, that I should send it to you, so here goes:

I remember one time in CS 1411 when Gus was having trouble with a transparency. He had just marked on it with a permanent marker, and after realizing it, he desperately tried to wipe it off.. he wet it, but it still didn't come off... I told him he could use some of my white-out if he wanted... He looked at me for a second and said : "You need not show up to the final..."

- that was Gus....

At the final, he would call out our names and then we would go up to the front and get our tests.. when I went up there, he said "So, are you the LAST one?" (referring to the fact that I have 3 brothers that had him also) I told him I have some nephews.....

I don't like the grade he gave me, but I sure liked him - and will miss him.....

Jonathan M. Newton

From: Gayle Casey (July 28, 1993)

I met Gus in ballroom dancing class. I remember thinking what a wonderfully friendly person he was right from the start. He was a pretty capable waltz-er, too. He was certainly the picture of a Renaissance man....he will be sorely missed.


From: Glenn Stone (from git.general) (July 28, 1993)

The first time I saw gus, he reminded me of Indiana Jones. My initial assesment wasn't too far off. While gus was never known for being mild mannered, his tales of what he did while not indoctrinating freshmen were far more interesting. He was a horseman, patriot, gunner, and above all a gentleman, as well as a scholar. He believed in maximum security and minimal fuss, and taught all these things to his charges, including me. He was a living example of the fact that you don't have to have a PhD. to know what you're doing. And how he got up in the morning and made it to his office before 7am all those mornings, I'll never know.

From: Vernard Martin (July 25, 1993)

freeman@cc.gatech.edu () wrote:
>Prof. Gus Baird, a long-time instructor in the College of
>Computing and its predecessor, and a Georgia Tech alum,
>died suddenly on Saturday, July 24, apparently of a massive heart attack
>(as you may have known, he had a life-long heart condition).
[lines deleted for brevity]
>The world is a better, richer place because Gus Baird lived -- he gave back
>much more than he took.

Good night sweet prince.
And may a chorus of angels sing you to your rest.

You were the best and I I was proud to call you friend.

Vernard Martin

From: Andrew Tobias Chappell (Dante)

I didn't know gus well, but he was never anything but kind to me. Whenever I saw him, he had a smile on his face. He was always quick with a joke, but seemed to be the kind of man who knows when and how to get things done. I always made a point of seeing him come advisement time, even when he would chastise me for signing up for "only" 19 hours, or his amazement at the fact that I could find 4 meaningful classes to take summer quarter.
He was one of the most kind people I have met in the short time I have been at Tech, and I deeply regret that I never had the oppurtunity to take one of his classes. He will be sorely missed.


"I guess you could design a logical contortion that would let you get
to the "end.", just to avoid something that has the flavor of the
the infidel "goto". Me, I have trouble with religions that make it
*that* hard to get something virtuous accomplished." -Gus Baird

From: John Butler (July 26, 1993)

The hardest class I've taken was CS 1411. I took it winter quarter last year. I got a C in it and I'd do it all over again if I could. Never before had I known a man so dedicated and energetic as Gus. In some classes here at Tech you have a hard time not cracking your head open against the desk when you fall asleep. Gus, on the other hand, could hold his class mesmerized. I've never learned so much so fast while having so much fun. I loved his stories about the military, OS/360, and his handball opponents. I'm crushed by the fact that I won't see him again when I take 3450. He was truly a Renaissance Man, and he will never be forgotten by a single one of his thousands of students.

John Butler
CmpE Student

From: Albert Chen (salute to gus) (July 27, 1993)

It's hard to believe that today, we will all be attending gus's memorial. I was still planning to take more classes under him; they were things to look forward to. I am grateful I was able to take him for 2760 and 1411. He is the greatest professor I have ever seen. He knew how to get you motivated and always made us feel like we were all in it together.

2760 and 1411 were great classes to have gus as a prof too. In 2760 he told us stories about the machines that were built "the way God intended," and in 1411, if anything, he taught us all the right "attitude". When he said we would get out of 1411 looking 5 years older he was right; I must've aged at least 8 years that last week.

He was, and always will be, the greatest.

albert chen

From: David Zobel (July 27, 1993)

I guess I would also like to add a story that happened today. I was eating lunch with two other CS students and we were telling old gus stories. Then one of the guys mentioned that one thing he thought was neat about gus was that he was respected by just about everyone who had met him. It is sort of rare for a prof to be respected so highly by both his peers, and his students. I immediately responded with something I have felt from day one with gus. I believe this respect comes from the fact that gus respected everyone the minute they walked in the door. You could walk into 1411 as a freshman who knew nothing and gus would give you respect as both a student and a person. When he lectured he didn't talk down to his students, he conversed with them. He told them stories and how he had done things, and expected the students to respond likewise. He was never afraid to learn from a student. I alway admired gus for this, and he quickly became my favorite prof. I wish I had gotten a chance to know him better. I especially wish he could see me graduate this September. He taught his students how to be a professional in life, as well as at work. I will miss him greatly, but his memory will always be with me. He taught me a lot.

David Zobel

From: Robert L. Howard (July 30, 1993)

Here's one I remember Gus telling.

He was called in by the DOT to help debug a problem with the computer they were using to hook to a sensor on the road. They had put this sensor on a stretch of highway to monitor traffic volume and speed. But it seemed that a portion of the traffic was getting clocked at something like Mach 10! Nobody could figure it out. So Gus drove down to the sensor site and did a little observing. It seemed that the local sheriff would sit on that stretch of road and try to pick up truckers driving by that were overloaded. When the truckers would come over the rise and see the sheriff's car they would stop, back up, and then turn down an alternate road.

It seemed that the sensor would register this backward speed but the number was being stored by the computer as an unsigned int!

The moral was as scientists and engineers we always needed to keep in mind real world realities when working on a problem. In the real world people back up sometimes...

Not particularly funny, but if you can imagine Gus solving the problem, ragging on the people who caused it, and then telling the story as an object lesson....well, it's definitely Gus.

| Robert L. Howard | Georgia Tech Research Institute |
| robert.howard@matd.gatech.edu | MATD Laboratory |
| (404) 528-7165 | Atlanta, Georgia 30332 |

From: Michael G. Goldsman (July 30, 1993)

Well. I don't know if this story is good enough for the collection... Its not really a story, but just my first experience with gus which set the tone for the following years!

I was a green freshman in Sept 87 trying to get some credit transferred (i.e. exempt out of 1410)... I was directed to go talk with gus. I remember distinctly the first time I saw him: Sitting in a dark room, neck craned and eyes dangerously close to a big old Green Vertical monitor. (I think Harvey Reed was standing behind him too! was that his name? The old 1411 TA??)

Anyways.. the program he was working on was in an infinite loop and he was in the process of debugging it.

I made my case to him to substitute a Pascal class I had taken at a different university for 1410. My effort was futile, of course, and gus said to me: "Anyone can learn a language... Here, we teach you how to be scientists."

They were great words of wisdom.

One other funny quote I remember is when I was sitting in a 1411 lecture... gus was talking about the "good old days" of the OS/360. Particularly, he was describing how unreliable it was and said:

"That thing went up and down more than a... Well... it went up and down a lot."

Filling in the appropriate obscene remark was left to the imagination of the student. The class broke in laughter up for a good five minutes.

I am often thinking of him and the way he always seems to light up a room by his raw energy.


From: David Zobel (July 30, 1993)

Now for some Gus stories:
I had gus for 2601 the first quarter that Coc was completed. Anyway, our class was in the building across from the EE building (Bunger Henry, I think). It was on the top floor which could only be reached by four flights of stairs. The first day of class (fall quarter) he walks in with his rat cap and proclaims (I'm paraphrasing, but this is pretty close) "Didn't we just build a new damn building to avoid this crap !" I laughed hysterically.

My two favorite gus speeches are one's I personally get a lot of mileage out of. The first was from 2601 when he talks about assembly language programs. I took 2601 after I had programmed in assembly for my co-op job. Gus said that assembly language programmers are like people who like to drive stick shifts. They really don't trust the automatic transmission, and besides they think they can do it better themselves. Also, there's nothing quite like feeling the gears grind. I love this analogy because I love to program in assembly, and I have a stick shift.

The second analogy I use all the time is the one about fried chicken. Gus said that in 1411 his job was to tell us how to cut up a chicken. Our mothers fried chicken is recognizable because she breaks it at the joints. You can tell if it's a breast, or a thigh, or a wing. However, when you go to Kentucky Fried Chicken you have no idea what your getting because they just hack up the chicken with a knife. Gus said that in 1411 his job was to show us where the joints in the program are so that we would cut it up correctly. I use this story to fend off EE majors saying "Anyone can program". I basically respond, yea but I can program WELL.

David Zobel

From: Kevin McInturff (July 30, 1993)


One story that you may or may not have was one of the most memorable moments of gus style. When in file systems (use to be 2301? can't remember) there was a lecture on different storage media. For this lecture, gus brought along a disk pack, a single plate (surgically removed somewhere along the line, and a tape reel. When he entered the part of the lecture dealing with the use of tape, he desribed the x-inch leader that was part of tapes. He described that the leader was used with the tape because it was subject to being 'folded, mutilated, stapled, etc.'. As he described this, he slowly spooled out enough tape to reach the ground, and when he reached the 'mutilating' part of the lecture, he began jumping up and down of the exposed tape with both feet, it a rather graphic demonstration of why the leader was necessary. Makes quite an impact. news reader program I have been using is not fully functional yet. On the subject of a memorial for gus, I love the hat idea, but if it turns out that this is not feasable, I have an additional suggestion. I remember from his old office in Rich a photo he had framed of a bus stop apparently found out in the middle of the woods. I believe the description he offered was that it reminded him of Narnia. (Bear with me, it was about 5 years ago.) I think a lamp post in a grassy spot (always lit) might serve as a suitable memorial, with significance beyond the connection with gus' photo. Thanks, Kevin McInturff

From: Arnold Robbins (July 30, 1993)

I had met gus back in the early to mid-80s when I was a grad student here and also worked in what was then the ICS lab. He and I had some good discussions about religion, as I'm an orthodox Jew, and he knew a lot about Catholicism (we had more good discussions when I came back to work here.)

I had been gone from Tech ~ 5 years before I came back, and like the first or second day he saw me, and then he saw the wedding ring on my finger! Was he happy! He gave me a hug, and said something to the effect that he was as happy as my parents must have been to see me married off.

The best things about gus were that he wasn't afraid to learn anything new, nor was he afraid to say what he thought. He was always cheerful. Thousands of undergrads think of him when they think of GT.

Arnold Robbins --- College of Computing

From: Annie Anton (July 30, 1993)

Here's some of my gus stories ...

Way back in 1986 I had gus for 1411 in Skiles 237. As you all know gus always had multimedia presentations (he used many overhead slides and covered the chalk board completely). One day he had filled the chalk board and couldn't find an eraser to erase the board with. So he looked over at the trash can on the other side of the stage and low and behold there was an old book satchel (the old fashioned kind with a big flap and two buckles and a nice long strap to hang it off your shoulder with) in the trash can. gus walked over (while still lecturing ... he never stopped lecturing while erasing the board or changing slides etc) to the trash can, grabbed the khacki colored canvas book bag and proceeded to erase the board with it! The whole class almost died laughing. And he just kept right on lecturing while erasing as if it was a real eraser and he was completely oblivious to the roaring laughter! That's not the funniest part though ... the funniest part was that for several weeks or months after that day, we'd see gus walking across campus to class using that old khacki book satchel that he pulled out of the trash can and erased the board with that day ... he used it proudly to tote his lecture notes to class. It was an absolute riot. If you think this story is too far fetched, then ask Vernard .... he was in the class too!

Another day in the middle of lecture gus wrote the following in the middle of the chalk board:


We were all completely puzzled, baffled, and proceeded to look through our textbooks and class notes to figure out what TANSTAFFL meant when he asked us if anyone knew what it meant. He had us going and guessing for about 5 minutes and then he suddenly said "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch" And we couldn't stop laughing ... if anyone else did this to his students it wouldn't be funny ... only gus could do something like that and only gus would have thought to do it.

gus used to drink a Diet Pepsi every day when we used to be back in the Rich building. Except I remember he never called it "Diet Pepsi", he called it "Diet Poopsie" and we'd frequently hear him say "it's time for me to drink my Diet Poopsie".

gus would always walk into class with his Diet Poopsie and before popping the top open, he'd religiously pull out his handkerchief and clean the top of the can off. Just one of those little things that he did that I've never forgotten.

gus' office in the CoC never was quite able to capture the spirit of gus' office back in the Rich building. He had a window in his office which he proudly showed us. We'd look out the window and all we'd see is the brick wall of the next building 1 inch away from the window pane. And he'd proudly tell us the history of the buildings on the hill behind the library. And of course we all listened intently because gus was the greatest story teller of all time.

gus had the light off on his office 75% of the time. And when it was off, he'd have this one tacky lamp on with a hideously green dragon base. You may have seen it in his office in the CoC ... it's on his filing cabinet to the right of his desk. For those of you who've been around a while I'm sure you remember it. gus also had a couch in his office. When he got tired of hacking, he'd close the door and take a nap.

I remember gus used to smoke. I'm not quite sure I remember when he quit smoking but I know he didn't smoke after his by pass surgery. gus used to go outside and sit on the brick wall outside the Rich building (between Hinman and Rich) to smoke everyday. And I remember giving him a hard time about it!

gus used to play his saxaphone on the sidewalk outside the Rich building ... he'd set up a music stand, have his hat on and fire away ... there's a picture in his office for evidence! Kurt Stirewalt once heard him playing his sax in his office at like 2 or 3 in the morning!

At my graduation in June of '92 (master's degree) gus saw my Dad in the student cntr ballroom at the pres' reception and he came running across the room, gave Dad a BIG bear hug and picked him up off the floor ... Dad's twice as heavy as gus! It was quite a sight to see.

I remember gus telling me stories about how when he was in undergrad at Tech he was on the fencing team. And most of the guys on the team were Cuban. Most of his friends from the fencing team died at the Bay of Pigs. He used to go over to Havana Cuban Sandwich shop once a year to pay tribute to his fellow fencers. I think I'll start going there once a year myself to pay tribute to gus.

-Annie Anton

From: Adam Feder (July 27, 1993)

I didn't know gus for as long as some others, but he affected my life (quite positively) nonetheless. I know I'll never be able to forget him.


From: John Butler (July 27, 1993)

"Boy, you knew it was a snake before you picked it up!"

Once, when in the Textile auditorium, when did the Mighty Gus activate the automatic motorized overhead screen, and lo did it make a rumbling diesel noise as does an old PC XT floppy drive, he shouted to the masses,

"Looks like there's a little gravel in the gearbox!"

Thousands more I can't recall, Ms. Anton, but I will look in my old 1411 notebook because everytime I laughed I wrote down WHY.

John Butler
oder das Fez

From: Robin Murphy (July 27, 1993)

I passed your comments about gus onto a friend who did his undergrad at Tech and is now a prof too. Here's what he said:

Fitting... I remember some of his quotes (or at least will think of him as having said them from now on) and I certainly can remember his voice and that hat... as a professor one can certainly do worse but not much better than him.


From: George P. Burdell (July 28, 1993)

Hi Annie, I've been thinking about this for the past couple of days and I thought I'd run it by you and get your opinion before talking to the Dean or anybody.

I was thinking about how much gus has influenced so many thousands of Tech CS alumni and current students; at least for me he sort of personified Georgia Tech CS when I was an undergrad. And I know he was a role model for many many students over the years.

I was also thinking about how our building doesn't really have a name other than "College of Computing Building" (I guess the old AECAL name is no longer in use). What do you think about the idea of starting a movement to get the building renamed to the "William Augustus Baird Building" or "William Augustus Baird College of Computing Building" or something like that?

I really think that we'd be hard pressed to come up with anyone more appropriate to name the building after. Gus had such an influence on so many people. And I bet the alumni would love the idea.

Anyway, I just wanted to bounce the idea off you. Tell me if you think it's silly or too grandiose or whatever.

From: Hrivnak (July 28, 1993)

I never knew gus too closely, but the times that I did go to his office, I always ended up longer than I had planned. He always had such great stories to tell. Even though I received a C in his class, I will never forget what a great lecturer he was. He will be missed, and I thank you for sharing that for those who could not attend.

From: Cott Lang (July 28, 1993)

In <106471@hydra.gatech.EDU> gtd543a@prism.gatech.EDU ( Jeff Garzik) writes:
>In <106434@hydra.gatech.EDU> gt2038a@prism.gatech.EDU (BROWNING,CHRIS SHERMAN) writes:
>>On a similar note, why doesn't someone organize a fund for some type of
>>memorial plaque or something for him? Atleast a tree in his honor?

>No - we need something more Gus.

We need a bronzed PDP-11.

From: John Butler (July 28, 1993)

In article <106548@hydra.gatech.EDU> gt8834a@prism.gatech.EDU (Cott Lang) writes:
|>We need a bronzed PDP-11.

inscribed with the source code to OS/360.
The inscription would be in either 7 point Courier or 9 pin dot-matrix.

das Fez
RIP gus Baird

From: Scott Register (August 2, 1993)

The most memorable quotation I have from him is the "ours is the medium of pure thought" line, talking about computer science.

The stories I have I'm sure I've told you, about him picking the lock on the physics stockroom and playing handball while I was taking a final. That's not original to Gus, BTW. It may have been Oscar Wilde, but I'm not sure.


From: Mike Tulkoff (to -Mike Tulkoff

Amy Marie Jacoby (August 2, 1993)

I used to co-op over at GTRI for Gene Weaver, who used to play handball with gus. I'm sorry that I did not think of talking to Gene about the memorial service after I heard the news, but I plan to visit him this week. Once I asked gus if he remembered Gene and gus said "That stocky, sneaky Weaver? I used to run for my life from him all over the handball court!" Gene had many, many stories about gus.

Maybe Eric wrote you about this, but just in case, here is another: After Eric decided that he'd like to forgo architecture for a career and prepare for grad studies in CS, he went to see gus for advisement. gus told Eric to "take 1410, 1411, and 2201 and see me in the morning."

gus said in my 3450 class once that he had two different types of advice to give whenever someone asked him if they should buy an ibm or an ibm clone. He said that if they were not a Tech student, he'd recommend the ibm for ease of having it serviced. He said he'd tell any Tech student to buy the cheapest clone available, because if it broke, all you'd have to do is "go stand in the middle of the quad with your broken pc and 100 propeller- beanie types will scramble to be the first to fix it right there." I really wanted to wear a propeller beanie to my final for that class.

In fact, I took that final during the blizzard. Two of my sophomore friends in the class and I picked up a snowball on the way since we were early and I took a picture of Ben (Combee) aiming it at gus while he was on the phone. He laughed and told whomever he was talking to that "a few students just came in my office ready for a good snowball fight." The picture isn't that great, but I have it (black and white) somewhere.

These may not be the most spectacular gus stories, but they are a few of mine and they stick out in my mind along with my fond memory of gus. I wanted to share them with you. He is the one professor that made such a great impression on me that I described his lectures and antics and personality to my father, telling him that gus was someone he would really like and admire if he ever got the chance to meet him. I think everyone feels that way about gus.

Amy Marie Jacoby

From: Amy Marie Jacoby (August 2, 1993)

I just thought of a short gus story... He was discussing C and the fact that != in A != B; ("bang equal" to him, of course) did not look like "not equal" to him. He said that he thought it looked like A was VERY equal to B.

Probably lots of students have heard that one. I laugh every time I think of it.


From: Vernard Martin (August 1, 1993)

Heh. That reminds me of gus' old .plan file that he used to keep on the pyramid. It said:

"To be a gentleman. A gentlmen is someone who is never unintentionally rude.

Notice that he had the underline in there. He stopped using it after the pyramid went away and I never did find out why. I always thought that it was the easiest way to explain gus' personality. :-)

From: Arnold Robbins (August 3, 1993)

I don't doubt that any former student he hadn't seen in 10 years could walk into his office and Gus would remember his/her name and greet him with a huge smile. The epitome of an educator, never a "professor".

The suggestion's been going around on the local newsgroups to name the COC building for him. I think it's an excellent idea.


From: Ami Amir (August 3, 1993)


Thanks for sending me gus's eulogy. The ultimate impact we can make in this world is on people. A handful of people may read our papers, very few of us are Edisons or Bells. But the knowledge, skills and fortitude we can impart, may be tremndously meaningful to people's life. I can see beyond doubt that gus had indeed affected his students' lives with wisdom, warmth and love. He was a special man, and you are lucky to have been his students.

-- Ami

From: Keith Edwards (July 26, 1993)

Hi Annie,
Since you seem to be the curator of gus stories I thought I'd send you this.

I got this from a friend of mine, Henry Strickland, whom you may remember. He got his undergrad and masters from Tech, and used to hold the record for longest continuous enrollment in the CS department (I recently beat his record :-)

Most of this is a compilation of stuff posted to git.general, but there is some new stuff

. -keith

----- Begin Included Message -----

Date: Tue, 3 Aug 93 19:45:37 PDT
From: strick@osc.versant.com (henry strickland)
To: strick-friends@osc.versant.com (strick-friends@versant.com)
Subject: The man who wanted nothing more than to teach.
>>> Prof. Gus Baird, a long-time instructor in the College of
>>> Computing and its predecessor, and a Georgia Tech alum,
>>> died suddenly on Saturday, July 24, apparently of a massive heart attack.
I was out of the country and off of the net when I received the sad news. Thanks to everyone who emailed and called.

Some of you remember my act of indiscretion on git.general right before I left for California -- I complained obnoxiously and arrogantly about something that turned out to be gus's work, and he followed up, flaming me as thoroughly as I deserved. I went straight to his office, expecting him still to be furious with me, but he greeted me with a huge gus hug, and laughed at me, as I learned my lesson.

If I had not remained in California at Versant after my summer internship here in 1989, I would have been teaching for gus in the fall quarter, his "punishment" for my mistake. I really regret missing both the chance to teach and the opportunity to learn teaching from the master, gus.


From: Peter Freeman (July 25, 1993)

Prof. Gus Baird, a long-time instructor in the College of Computing and its predecessor, and a Georgia Tech alum, died suddenly on Saturday, July 24, apparently of a massive heart attack (as you may have known, he had a life-long heart condition). He was found at home and apparently died instantly. We anticipate having a memorial service on campus -- an announcement will be made as soon as details are known.

Gus was one of those individuals who cared passionately about everything he did, leading him to live life to the fullest and enabling him to be a truly contributing member of society in every way. He will be deeply missed by his family, his thousands of students, his friends in many areas of the community, and by us, his colleagues.

The world is a better, richer place because Gus Baird lived -- he gave back much more than he took.

Peter Freeman
Dean and Professor

From: Mark J. Reed (July 25, 1993)

I can't really add anything to what Peter said... mostly I'm sad for the generations of Tech freshmen who won't have the experience of learning, really LEARNING, from gus Baird...

Mark J. Reed
Georgia Institute of Technology

From: Gene Spafford (July 27, 1993)

One last one on Gus:

>From the Atlanta J. / C. 7/26/93:


William A. Baird
Ga. Tech professor

The memorial service for William A. Baird of Lawrenceville, a professor of computer science at Georgia Tech, will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Georgia Tech Library.

Mr. Baird, 51, died of a heart attack Friday while jogging.

Surviving are two daughters, Alison Baird of Johnson City, Tenn., and Andrea Baird of Lawrenceville; and his mother, Jimmie Baird of Augusta.

Funeral Notices


Mr. William A. (Gus) Baird, age 50 of Lawrenceville, Ga., died July 24, 1993. He is survived by daughters, Alison Baird of Johnson City, Tn., Andrea Baird of Lawrenceville; mother Jimmie Baird of Augusta, Ga.; special friend, Nan Griffith of Carrollton. Mr. Baird had worked at Georgia Tech for the last 15 years and had served as a computer science professor the last 10 years. Memorial services will be held Tuesday, July 27 at 3 p.m. at the Georgia Tech Library. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the American Heart Association. The remains have been cremated. Tom M. Wages Funeral Service Inc., Lawrenceville, 963-2411.

From: Annie Anton (June 6, 1995)

``Sit down, be quiet, listen to your elders.''

``I have no hidden faults.''

-gus Baird

From: Doug Franklin (September 28, 1995)

No doubt about it. gus had a lot to teach us kids. A bunch of it was in the textbooks, but most was not. The really important things gus taught had much more to do with attitudes and "weltanschauung" (worldview) than with mundane things like coding. One of my favorite gus stories doesn't seem to be on the pages of the "gus Memorial" that I browsed last night.

It was sometime in the fall of '82. We were taking the ICS 1401 (later ICS 1411) class in the old chemistry building behind (west of) Grant Field. In that little room on the left as you enter the building that was often used for the "prelab briefings" before chemistry labs.

Gus was holding forth on the importance of checking for _every_ error that could be returned to your code. Not only checking for it, but responding rationally to them, and proactively avoiding them when possible. It being ICS 1401 (Pascal Programming II), most of us were not only wet behind the ears, we were fairly dripping.

In fact, the extreme lack of experience meant a lot of the students just weren't "catching" the point gus was trying to get across. So he whipped out an example that was pretty much unforgettable.

It seems that gus had fairly recently been working on contract to the Army Ordnance bureau (or division or whatever). He had been designing software that connected millimeter-wave RADAR "incoming fire detection" systems to the fire control systems on 155mm self-propelled howitzers. Well, the project had been on for a while, and the code was ready for some real testing. Having written the code, he was naturally required to be present for the testing.

This was a live fire test. He's sitting inside one of the guns, keeping an eye on the software. Everything seems to be going well. The system is finding the incoming rounds on the radar, and sending reasonable commands to the fire control system for counter-battery fire. Everything is cool until counter-battery fire starts landing near him.

To get a sense of what it must have been like, you've got to remember that a 155mm artillery shell is about six inches in diameter. They weigh quite a bit (around a hundred pounds if I recall correctly) and they're coming in at more than a thousand feet per second (maybe a lot more, I'm not sure). In addition to the sheer kinetic energy, they're detonating about half their weight in high-explosive. Needless to say, "the house was rocking."

So here's gus, bouncing around like a cork on a hurricane swept sea (and illustrating with bounds and hops around the dais in typical gus style). He's strapped in just so he's not banged to pieces on the internal surfaces of the SPG's turret. Everything is still going well, and the radio's telling him that his rounds are right on the mark. The system's doing exactly what it's supposed to do.

Then one of the volleys of rounds that's coming at gus lands a little closer than planned to the SPG he's in. So close that this forty-some-ton behemoth is lifted bodily off the ground, and slams back down like the dropped stone it is (major leap and roll and bounce from gus). When the suspension bottoms out, and starts to rebound, gus hears an ominous "crack" beneath his feet (where the computer is). As the incoming rounds crash down all around him, the only thing he can get out of the Zenith Z-248 fire control monitor is that infamous DOS error message

   General Error
   A)bort, R)etry, or I)gnore?

Then gus just stands there, watching the faces of the tyros in his class. After a pregnant pause of maybe fifteen seconds, he grins and asks

   Do you get it now?

I guarantee we did.

Well, I hope the story is of use to the "gus Memorial." He's someone I'll never forget, and someone who influenced my world view greatly. I only hope that Tech has managed to capture someone who can communicate similar messages to the kids in similar memorable fashion. Unfortunately, there just aren't enough people like gus in the world.

Hey, maybe all us "gus admirers" could form a "gus admiration society" and gather for Russian Infantryman's Breakfast every once in a while?

From: Mark G. Wales (August 18, 1995)

I like what you guys did for Gus. That was very thoughtful and I think a nice tribute.