San Jose Mercury News (CA) - July 27, 2008

Deceased Name: Barbara S. Cass

CA United States


Barbara S. Cass August 28, 1938 - July 8, 2008 A longtime Portola Valley resident, recently succumbed to pancreatic cancer at home with her family at her side. Barbara was born in San Francisco, the daughter of Norma and the late Elvin C. Stendell. She graduated from Lowell High School in 1955, and the University of California Berkeley in 1959. She married Tom Cass, whom she met while at college, in June 1959. They lived together in Washington DC. while Tom was in the US Navy, returned to Berkeley and then lived in Paris, France while Tom completed his postdoctoral studies. Barbara was a nursery school teacher during the early years of her marriage, but remained at home to raise her children when they arrived. The family returned to California in 1970. When her children were on their own, she became a volunteer for the Women's Resource Center in Palo Alto. As a result of counseling women wishing to re-enter the employment market, she became interested in the fledgling computer industry and eventually became an executive in several non-profit associations in that industry. Barbara had an amazing career. She went on to assist in the formation of Software Entrepreneur's Forum (SEF) in Palo Alto. This new community of software engineers and entrepreneurs exchanged ideas during monthly dinners, and was the precursor of what has become the essence of Silicon Valley today, with numerous opportunities for networking and connecting. Barbara took over the organization in 1984 and started inviting industry luminaries to speak. People still talk about the SEF meeting where Bill Gates spoke at the Palo Alto Elks Lodge to an audience of 640 strong. She was selected to the "MicroTimes 100" several times in the 1990's. In 1998, one of her proudest moments was the successful fusion of the two organizations: the City of San Jose's Center of Software Development and SEF, which became SDForum. That same year, she helped to create the prestigious Visionary Awards. This annual event is now recognized as the best such event in Silicon Valley, where 300 leaders and influencers of technology meet to celebrate the successes of luminaries in the field. From its early days of developer community groups, SDForum grew from a handful of developers passionate about software to the oldest and largest association of professionals in emerging technologies in the area, with over 2,000 members and 45 organizational sponsors. With her exceptional people skills and understanding of the business of technology, Barbara nurtured these groups and was often the barometer for future tech trends as she helped new groups form. Her illness forced her retirement in December 2007. Barbara loved her family intensely, but she also opened her home and her heart readily to newcomers to her community. Her lovely smile illuminated many lives. Barbara will be missed by everyone who knew her. Barbara is survived by her husband of 49 years, Tom; mother, Norma Stendell of San Jose; son Peter and daughter-in-law Kate Ague of Menlo Park; daughter Carin and son-in-law Brian Zimmerman of San Francisco; and three granddaughters Kacey and Ashley Zimmerman, and Lily Cass. According to her wishes, no services were held. Donations in lieu of flowers to: Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Medical Oncology Dept., 795 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301.