Dad worked at LLNL for over 45 years. He started out in Operations (where he met mom), but shortly after moved to Computations where he was a Programmer. Dad has several patents in his name for code that he wrote.
The following is from the Lawrence Livermore National Lab newsletter regarding Phil Eckert. -Shane
In over 45 years at LLNL, Phil Eckert made quite an impression: not one of flash or self-promotion, but one of quiet dignity, kindness, excellence in his speciality of resource management, and dedication to the mission and people of Livermore Computing. Writing elegant system software, most specifically resource management software, was his passion.
Many of his colleagues contributed to a memorial gift to his family, others contributed to this article with fond memories and some participated in both ways. In total, LC and other LLNL colleagues combined to send a card, a plant, and 2 gift cards to Phil’s kids, delivered on January 29th. We will also be making a $500 donation to charity in Phil’s name.
A Brief History of Phil’s Career
Phil started at LLNL in 1974 as a Digital Computer Operator in the Computation Department. He initially reported to Marilyn Richards and Gary Tollefson, and resided in B113 R1564. His employment application listed his father, C.D. Eckert, as a Senior Machinist II at LLNL. Phil’s son Shane also worked in IT at LLNL, making three generation of the Eckert family at the Lab. Before joining LLNL Phil studied Art at Chabot College and Cal State Hayward, and he obtained an AA in Data Processing and Accounting at Chabot. Phil’s career history includes a long list of software projects and systems that the worked on. In the 1980’s his group leaders included Conrad Wilgus and George Powles in the Computer Operations Division. He worked on NLTSS (New Livermore Time Sharing System) on Cray systems, and wrote utilities to help manage systems like the CDC 7600 and the DEC PDP-10. In the 1990’s his group leaders included Doug East and Moe Jette. Livermore has seen a long succession of batch scheduling systems over the decades, and Phil worked on nearly all of them. As a member of the Distributed Computing Technology Group, led by Moe, Phil worked on the DPCS (Distributed Production Control System) meta resource manager, and he integrated DPCS with the LoadLeveler scheduler on the IBM SP systems. In the 2000’s Phil worked in the ICRM group under Greg Tomaschke and later Don Lipari. Those years saw LC transition from DPCS to LCRM and later from LCRM to Moab. Meanwhile LC was busy developing and deploying SLRUM, and Phil dove in to support SLURM on the Linux clusters and the BlueGene/L system. Around 2011 the ICRM group merged with the Software Development Group (SDG) led at the time by Pam Hamilton, later by Ned Bass, and currently by Jim Foraker. Phil stayed in the SDG for the rest of his career, where he worked on Moab, SLURM, LSF, and Flux. Phil also began working shifts in the LC Hotline over the last few years where his friendly, helpful attitude and passion for problem solving were put to good use. Phil did work he deeply cared about and enjoyed up until the very and, and I believe, that’s exactly how he wanted to go.
Memories of Phil
If ever there was a definition of “easy going” Phil eckert was that for me. You can add friendly and helpful to the list, and conscientious fits perfectly as well. One of my early interactions with Phil, probably circa 199 was around the security of DPCS (The in house batch/resource system LC used at that time.) I was looking to improve security of various things and mentions the increased emphasis on encryption for LC HPC, I believe it was in an LC morning meeting, and Phil told me that DPCS has encryption. Later, I stopped by Phil’s office after the meeting to find out more information, unencrypted protocols were mostly the norm at that time, to learn more. Phil swiveled around in his chair, and grabbed a printed copy of “Dr. Dobbs Journal” which had an article including source code, for an encryption method, that Phil and others on the DPCS project team had found and proactively implemented. I read the article, impressed that they had been so proactive, but then told Phil about recently installed OpenSSL, and requested that the encryption in DPCS be replaced with calls to the OpenSSL library, which was now available on all LC systems. Phil said “sure”, with that friendly positive attitude those that worked with him, knew him so well for.
Phil was an exceptional there-door-down neighbor. Always pleasant and full of wit. He turned most situations into something seemingly funny. I always looked forward to each morning as he passed my office and made some amusing, unexpected comment. He was very non-judgmental and a pleasure to work in the Hotline, always adding a comical flair to the tasks.
Phil was a friendly kind-hearted soul. This came through in every interaction with him, whether it was an office chat or just saying “hello” by the microwave. He was a great resource for whatever scheduling software LC happened to be using at the time, and I always could count on him to be helpful and informative. I’m certainly going to miss seeing his friendly smile up on the 4th floor. My condolences to his family – he was a good man.
Phil began to help with Technical Consultant hotline shifts a couple of years ago. He was always kind and cheerful, and he had the most amazing sense of humor. He would sit back in meetings quietly and then out of nowhere would come the funniest joke or pun.
I am terribly saddened that Phil left us too soon. At least if feels far too soon to those of us he left behind. The last time I saw him it was over a WebEx video call and he looked happy. He had let his hair and beard grow longer but not unkempt, and he was excited about new things he was working on like Fliix, the SQL, and Gitlab. Since his wife passed away a couple of years ago, Phil frequently spoke of taking comfort in his faith and that they would be reunited in Heaven someday. Knowing that gives me hope that he was at peace in his final days and moments. Phil was one of the team members I most enjoyed having one on ones with as an SDG group leader. Once we had covered the business at hand, we’d spend the rest of the hour talking about his beloved family and his fond memories of his long career at the Lab. Phil taught me a great deal about what it means to be a dedicated employee and a devoted husband and father. Phil made the world a better place in so many ways. He spend his nearly five-decade career doing his part to sustain computing as a cornerstone discipline at LLNL. He was a problem solver who derived great satisfaction from wiring software that made his customers’ and colleagues’ jobs easier. The image of Phil I will carry in my memory is of him sitting in the 9AM LC morning meeting sprinting a Hawaiian shirt as if it was a Friday, and always wearing a big, content smile on his face. He was so proud to be Part of our LC Family, and I am proud and grateful to have known and worked with him. Rest In Peace, Phil.
My overwhelming memory of Phil was his joyful nature. He could be dealing with a nasty problem at work or in manifest physical pain, but he always seemed to have a smile on his face to to cheer everyone up. He was a good man and will me missed.
I have fond memories of Phil from working with him for so many years. Phil always seemed pretty absorbed in his work. He was very easy to work with. And I think it’s safe to say, he spent most of his life working on stuff he enjoyed.
I was Phil’s group leader for about six years and there wasn’t an employee more dedicated to his job than Phil. I came to rely on his years of experience and always enjoyed our conversations. He never failed to make insightful comments about he nature of our work which I appreciated! His family meant everything to him and I know he’ll be greatly missed. I hope many good memories will ease the grief of his loss.
Phil Eckert was a patient and kind colleague. I can remember discussing the design and history of LCRM with him in the early days of SLURM, and his thoughtful explanations helped instill confidence and direction in the SLURM design. He never judged or expressed exasperation at the naive questions of young programmers, and was always more than happy to give details or advice. I will always remember Phil as the most easygoing and pleasant people Iv’e met.
Phil continued to bring his vast experience and work ethic, and good natured collegiality to bear on the Flux project, where is contributions would ensure that the newest generation of the HPC resource management software will meet the needs of the users and administrators alike. In total, Phil made contributions to at least three generations of the batch scheduling software in use at LC and beyond, and thus he has left and indelible contribution to the world.
There are many things to say about Phil and not enough words. One thing that comes to mind is that he was always helpful and never pushy. He might have a different opinion and he would point you to an article or ask questions, but he was respectful of people’s opinions. He was dependable, kind, and he did the right thing and all of that made him a good consultant. He started as an operator more than 40 years ago and he has had long friendships with many of the people who still work for LC and some who have left the Lab or retired. They still ask about Phil and that tells you a a lot. Phil was an expert at helping users move from one resource management system to another. We are going to miss him during the transition to Flux and not just because of his operational knowledge. During the pandemic I was already missing our conversations at the kitchen area outside my office where we would compare notes on new tea varieties or talk about our kids. Phil was sociable and caring, always asking how others were doing. His absence will leave a giant hole on our hallway when we all return to our offices on a full time basis. I am glad that he was coming on-site to do his shifts and that many of you therefore were all able to see him in person these past few months. Phil talked about his family a lot. He loved his kids and grandkids so much, as well as his beloved wife who passed away a little more more than two years ago. Phil didn’t want to retire so we never had a retirement party and told him all of these things in public. I hope that he knew how much we all cared about him and his family knows it now.
For myself, Phil was one of my most frequent droppers-by. He was so kind. Knowing I had struggled for hears with migraine (under control now), he would stop by or send articles about various treatments and potential cures. We also shared common faith (through expressed differently) and had several nice conversations about church and the like. He’s one of the folks Iv’e missed the most, working from home, and the hallway will not be the same without him.