My good friend and colleague, John Bruce, recently passed away. JB and I knew each other since ninth grade, which makes it 50 years. He joined Zogby International as a statistical consultant in 1991 and served as our vice president and chief information officer for most of the next two decades.
John was low-key, unpretentious and modest. We had a tradition of nailing elections together, even some that were controversial, and when we would see each other the morning after the election, he would say "We did pretty good, didn't we?" Then smile like the cat who ate the canary.
John developed our statistical package, our sampling methodology, built our call center, oversaw our network, and pioneered in developing our online polling. John worked around the clock and never stopped learning. Because of that he was able to help navigate all of us into the future. John was relied upon by all of us as a problem-solver, a key role in any company.
There are so many good memories. We stood over an obsolete personal computer (that's what we used to call them) in 1994 and fretted over weights and stats well into the overnight hours right before we felt comfortable showing state Sen. George Pataki leading incumbent New York Gov. Mario Cuomo in the final hours of that campaign. We haggled over the numbers of Mormons who would show up in the 1996 Arizona GOP primary and came out with a final poll showing Publisher Steve Forbes winning that state.
As in the Pataki victory, we were the only ones nailing the Arizona primary - even closer than the exit polls. That showing warranted a call from Reuters requesting if we might be interested in polling for them in the 1996 presidential election. We were very interested; the ride from there was just crazy.
It was one successful poll after another, most very high profile; two guys who went to high school together on top of the polling world. But you would never know it talking and listening to JB. He would finally go out and splurge on a Prius. When I leased a Chrysler 300 with that fantastic Hemi motor, John reminded me that it was contrary to every value I have ever stood for. He was right. Now I drive a Toyota.
Over the years, John would teach, mentor, and cross-train seven younger employees and together they would lead our company into the 21st century of information technology and analytics. All of them mourn the loss of a man who became their uncle. The interaction within the "systems department" was always lively and often loud - but they were simply the best in the polling business, and JB was their leader.
And he was always so precise. I often bragged about his 4 handicap as a golfer and he would always correct me that he was actually a 6 handicap. I let him get the last word, but the truth is that I remember when he was a 4.
JB was too young to leave us but what a legacy he leaves behind. A perfectionist, he made us all better as professionals and as people.
May he rest in peace.