Eulogy for Anthony Rumble: 1972-2009

Anthony Edwin Rumble

Below is the eulogy I gave for Anthony at his funeral yesterday. It outlines his life, and his achievments. I have had many comments from my family that they didn't know he had achieved so much, and that many of these things they were hearing for the first time.

I have placed the slideshow that also played at the funeral online. You can view just the images (use the "Slideshow" button in the top-right ot view full-screen) or view it with the accompanying music (click "Full" to go full screen).

Before I begin I'd like to thank all those who have provided help and support to our family at this difficult time. The friends and family have been out in force with emotional and material support that is quite humbling and demonstrates the love there is for Anthony and his family. We thank you for all the kind words, flowers, support, meals and other help we've been given.

Anthony was born on 16th April 1972 to Chris and Ray Rumble in Port Macquarie hospital after a 49 1/2 hour marathon labour. He was a good baby and would sleep until he was due for his feed, which was handy as both his parents worked long hours, often tag-teaming child minding duties.

Early on Anthony showed many of the traits he displayed throughout his life. His knowledge ranged far and wide, and he didn't mind telling you what he knew. As fact. He was easy prey for the ribbing and stirring of his uncles and aunts, taking their gags hook, line and sinker. During his childhood he was very fond of animals: our pet dogs Buttons and Scamper, his aviary full of budgies and quails, and the Robinson family duck.

Anthony took an early interest in technology. Our first computer, a Dick Smith Wizzard, was purchased in 1982 and Anthony was immediately hooked. When we purchased the BASIC programming cartridge, he went to town writing software. Our games of "shop" with Kristy, Janelle, Susan and Kathryn had Anthony holding our money in computerised accounts at his bank, using software he'd written himself. Later on he wrote a database programme, modestly using his initials in the name: AERBase. Bear in mind, this was a ten year old who had taught himself programming and seen the necessity of a generic data storage mechanism. Anthony continued with newer computers, inheriting the computers that had outrgrown their usefulness in the family businesses.

When it came time to go to high school, Anthony went off to St Patricks College boarding school in Goulburn. I won't say he loved his time in Goulburn, not being the archetypal sporty type the school usually required, but he did well academically, studying four unit maths and getting time on any of the computers he could find around the place. At one point he was effectively administering the school library's multi-user computer network, saving the school thousands in expensive consulting fees.

After school Anthony went to Newcastle University to study Computer Science, briefly. He quickly got frustrated with ivory tower academics lecturing without recourse to the real world. In those days computer science courses taught lots of theory, with little reference to what was actually happening outside academia. He scored a couple of jobs for small engineering firms in Sydney, before landing a job he could really sink his teeth into at Netcomm, a manufacturer of modems.

It was around the end of Anthony's time at school that we bought our first modem. A modem allows you to connect computers to other computers through a phone line, but this primitive model worked at the blistering speed of 300 bits per second, about 40,000 times slower than the Internet connection in my home today. We started calling bulletin boards, which were computer meeting places that you could use to exchange messages and, in some cases, talk in real time to other people. Eventually discovered one of the more popular boards in Sydney, Active Fun Entertainment, which at the time sported five lines allowing five different people to talk to each other in real time. Quite a revelation. The main difference with this board was its social aspect, and it is here that Anthony met some of his closest friends.

One of the groups who frequented Active, and its many social events, ran another bulletin board called Arcadia. This group shared a quirky sense of humour and a plethora of obscure in jokes. Anthony was rapidly accepted into the group, and made lifelong friendships. I see a bunch of Arcadians present today, and I know a few couldn't make it today. Thank you for the kindness and companionship you showed to Anthony.

Soon after discovering Active, Anthony installed some software into the core of the bulletin board to allow people to play a real-time, multiplayer game. It was while installing and integrating this system that Anthony wowed Grant Parnell with his technical skills. Grant and Anthony became close friends, and eventually business partners. We're extremely fortunate to have Grant with us today, as he was scheduled for major surgery last Friday, but it has been rescheduled.

The Linux community has much to remember of Anthony. He was one of the early users of Linux in Australia, with his interest in Minix coinciding with that of a certain Finnish programmer. I remember him rushing in to tell me about a new operating system he'd found, which promised to be more useful than Minix. I was a bit bewildered, wondering how something that took so long to boot and seemed to crash constantly could be of any use. While going through his things, I stumbled on ancient floppy disks for Linux v0.12, the second ever release of the Linux operating system.

Anthony spent much of the early years of Linux distributing the software to others in Australia. He had an Internet account, a rare thing at the time, and so was able to keep up-to-date with the latest developments. People would post or hand-deliver floppies for him to copy, and eventually he set up a bulletin board to allow people to download it. Soon enough he helped found the Sydney chapter of the Australian Public Access Network Association (APANA), which was at the time one of the only ways ordinary Australians could get Internet access outside universities and a few big companies. His APANA node, lsupoz, was one of the first in Sydney and at one point was the hub for the Sydney network, running from the front room of our parents' house.

Later on, Anthony set up a business distributing Linux software and merchandise around Australia with his wife Laura. They got Linux into thousands of sites, distributing CDs and propaganda by mail order and at conferences.

With the dawning of the Internet explosion in public consciousness, Anthony scored a job with one of the early Internet Service Providers in Australia, Microplex. Here he learned many key skills in networking and business, and was fortunate to meet another close friend, Matt Perkins, who would later be Anthony's best man.

Anthony was next headhunted to work on an ambitious project by a large multinational stationery supplier with ambitions to control the entire market in Australia. Corporate Express wanted to move most of their transactions onto the Internet, which at the time was a radical idea. Anthony rose to the challenge, building an innovative online ordering system with a front-end simple enough to be used by the secretaries and admin staff ordering stationery in Australian businesses, government and academia. Soon enough, it was Australia's most successful e-commerce site, turning over many millions of dollars in orders every month. The technology Anthony developed handled the massive load with ease, and the project won a special commendation by the Australian Information Industry Association.

While still working at Corporate Express, Anthony met a young university student named Laura, and shortly afterwards they married in a big ceremony and party. While the marriage ended some years later, there were very happy times as Anthony and Laura built up a business and a family in their home in Croydon. Anthony and Laura set up a business distributing Linux software and merchandise, Everything Linux. This developed a sophisticated stock-management and online ordering system to handle mail orders.

Abigail Rumble was born late in 2000. Anthony doted on Abi, his beautiful daughter, and loved her dearly. After Anthony and Laura separated, they shared custody and he continued Abigail's involvement with cub scouts, which she loves. Under his parents' rearing, Abigail has developed into a beautiful, intelligent and loving young girl, who was the centre of Anthony's life.

The last few years of Anthony's life have not been perfect. He struggled with epilepsy, which was diagnosed about six years ago. The drugs used to control it have many negative side effects including mood disorders, memory loss and aphasia, and the doctors attempted to adjust the dosage to minimise these effects while keeping him safe from the dangers of epilepsy. During this time, his friend, business partner and flatmate Grant was an enormous support to Anthony. More recently things appeared to be looking up for Anthony, with his drug regime seeming to stabilize and cause fewer of the bad side effects. His epilespy seemed well controlled and his mood was good.

Anthony joined a support group after his divorce, Parents Without Partners and soon became heavily involved with the organisation. They gave him excellent support and improved his outlook enormously. He also took up Ceroc, a modern jive partner dance style, and was incredibly proud of his dancing ability. At one of the PWP functions, he met and gradually wooed his partner Rosetta. Rosetta and her family welcomed him into their lives and made him very happy, enjoying dancing and tons of blended family activities.

A few weeks ago Anthony took possession of his new flat in Belmore, and had just finished unpacking his posessions. It was a lovely place and I hadn't even had a chance to visit it myself when I got the phone call last Saturday and rushed over. Anthony's elderly Greek neighbours have told us about the impression he had already made, helping them with odd jobs around the place and always being friendly and polite.

Looking around here today, I see that Anthony was loved far beyond his own immediate family. He'll be missed by all his friends and relatives, but especially by his mother Chris, father Ray, brothers Charlie and Simon, partner Rosetta and her children Jeffrey, Matthew and Catherine, and by his daughter Abigail. We'll miss you Anthony.