Peter Day, Emory’s “walking history of computing,” honored at retirement

Photo of Peter Day

Peter Day, a gentleman and a scholar.

Peter Day was honored this week as he reached the end of a 43-year Emory career that spanned the history of computing at Emory. Peter spent most of his professional career at Emory as well as receiving a degree in math from the university.

Peter Day’s father, R.A. Day, was a chemistry professor at Emory. He met Peter’s mother at Emory when he accidentally leaked distilled water from his lab into hers. Love blossomed, a family was created, and soon Peter was born and began his Emory journey. While a student, his first job was shelving books in the library.

Peter Day met his wife at Emory and his mother, two brothers and sister are got degrees here. “He bleeds blue and gold,” said Anne Marie Alexander, who presided over Peter’s retirement event.

After graduating from Emory, Peter received a PhD in math from Cal Tech, dabbled in teaching for a few years, then returned to his alma mater where he spent over four decades in the IT world.

In 1972, Peter became Emory’s manager of operating system support (“I had hair back then,” he quipped). During that time he worked on the university’s first mainframe. In the 80’s, Peter wrote the grant request that obtained funding to connect Emory to NSFnet (the precursor of the commercial Internet). In 1997, he wrote the grant request that obtained funding to connect Emory to Internet2. You can read an interesting article about his (and Emory’s) history of computing in a 2008 article of the Online News.

Most recently, Peter was one of the architects of the new identity management tool, which resulted in him being one of the recipients of the very first LITS Significant Contribution Award. He was a tireless documentarian of all things computing in the knowledge base.

Peter also dabbled in communications, publishing many of the original printed versions of what would become the Online News. He’s well-known for his 1992 video production of the Ghost of Uppergate House (which can be seen in this article…the video takes some time to load but it’s worth the wait.)

Photo of a retirement party

Peter spinning a yarn for his colleagues.

Anne Marie nearly choked up talking about Peter and many of Peter’s colleagues had nice things to say about him:

According to co-worker John Wang, “There are three things I will always remember about Peter: 1) he was always the last one left everyday, 2) his knowledge about Identity management was always solid and accurate, and 3) working with him made me happy.”

“There are many things that impressed me about Peter, but, above all, it was his ability to adjust to new roles and still excel, every time,” said John Ellis, “and I only got to see this for a little less than one third of his career at Emory.”

Said retiree Susan Ament, “The thing I remember about Peter is he never seemed to burn out. He always seemed fully charged and ready to go at work.”

According to his brother Mike, Peter’s job now is to serve as the patriarch of the Texas branch of the Day Family. Despite his moving to Texas, you can still reach Peter at peter [dot] day [at] emory [dot] edu.

Best of luck, Peter, and if MyPassword breaks, we are calling you!

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