Farewell, Jon Riesberg Back to Memorial Page

Some History of Jon... and stories...


Owner/Foreman Arroyo Alamosa Ranch
"Raising fine feral cats and reliable rattlesnakes for over two decades"</i>

May 1987 - August 2010 (23 years 3 months)


Hewlett-Packard - September 1979 - August 2002 (23 years)



Bay Area 1979 - 1987

Microwave Semiconductor

  • Jon and I loved chocolate ice cream, even though it gave him a nasty headache. Every week or two, I'd make an "ice cream run" to a little shop run by two retired ladies who made and sold real hand-made ice cream, churned in stainless-steel. Jon could taste the difference between s/s-packaged confections and the "regular kind" offered out of cardboard containers.
    One day, after I'd returned to the office with two large cups of ice cream, one of our fellow marketing folks walked by our desk, looked way down her nose at us and icily intoned, "You are what you eat." and turned and walked away.
    When she got out of earshot, Jon and I turned to each other and said, in unison, "Meow!" and burst into laughter. She never knew what had happened.
  • At the time of the "ice cream incident," Jon and I had desks next to each other, facing out to the entire department. A nice view, but not as nice a location as the much-coveted "by the windows" spots.
    A new marketing manager was appointed at some time, and as is the norm, wanted to revamp the office layout "in his own image," so to speak. Very normal HP process.
    A day or two after the "rearrangement" announcement went out, Jon turned to me and said that he'd volunteered for the task of creating the new office layout.
    "Are you crazy!? I asked. "That's the most thankless job anyone can have! Everyone will be jockeying for nice spots and complaining about anything and everything! Why the hell would you want to take on that task?!"
    Jon replied, calmly... "Where do you want to sit?"
    "Over there, by the windows," I smiled.
    "Sorry, that's where my desk is going, but if you want to sit next to me, the spot is open..."
    We both enjoyed our new digs for a long time.
  • Computer Support

    Somewhere in this era, I think it was the time that Jon managed part of the Computer Support group that worked with the HP3000s. His tasks included making sure that the equipment in their support area was always up and running, as well as handling the shipment of support manuals and literature that went out with all products. This led to two stories. Jon invited me to his workplace to show off some of his innovations...

    The first was his innovation in packaging for the computer literature and manuals. He devised a packaging design that used nested cardboard boxes for every item. Since many kinds of manuals and literature were of standard sizes, he created boxes which would protect each item, then devised another box to fit those boxes into, such that there would be an absolute minimum of "dead space" in the outer containers. This also meant that virtually no "plastic packing peanuts were ever needed, thus saving a lot of money over the long haul. It was an elegant design, and I really admired his thinking.

    Then he "took it to the next level..."

    Often, customers would decommission a computer and "forget to tell HP about it." Updates to software and manuals would continue to ship to the customer, who would either toss them out or take advantage of the "Return to Sender" label, costing HP a bundle of money for wasted UPS or FedEx shipping charges. There had to be a better way, Jon figured.

    Then he implemented it: Instead of putting his location on the "return label," Jon hit the databases and printed the address of the nearest sales office on the return label.

    Suddenly, rather than boxes of literature and manuals returning to his location for re-inventory or re-shipment to another customer, the sales office began to get the deliveries. This prompted the sales office people to figure out which sales rep was currently responsible for the customer who'd shipped the stuff back, and they got more "face time" with the customer to eliminate the unnecessary shipments and possibly sell some new products to the customer! Elegant!


    Then there were the backup systems for the hardware testing lab. If any customer had a problem, the equipment under Jon's wing would be configured to match the customer's arrangement and testing would be done to verify and fix the problem the customer was encountering.

    This meant that ALL of the equipment had to be operable all the time, and any power outage would be disastrous.

    Jon set out to create the best uninterruptible power system he could buy. He contacted the company that built similar systems on a much grander scale for Pacific Bell in San Francisco and had them design a system sized for the equipment Jon had to keep humming. It filled a large "back room" in the building with inch-thick copper bus bars running along the walls, connected to the largest lead-acid batteries I'd ever seen... about three or five times the size of what used to be in our cars!

    Along the back wall were several power inverters that took the DC power from the batteries and turned it into AC power for all of the computers and peripherals in the next room. The converters dwarfed the largest "Sub-Zero" refrigerator you've ever seen.

    "And those batteries will run every piece of equipment in the lab all on at the same time, for up to four hours!" Jon proudly announced.

    "What about after four hours," I asked. Jon beamed... "I was hoping you'd ask that... step this way..."

    He opened a door to the back parking lot where a huge Diesel generator unit had just been delivered. "We'll have that wired into the system to keep the batteries full, in the event the main building power fails."

    I admired the huge generator, some twenty feet long and well over ten feet tall, sitting on the flat-bed delivery trailer.

    "So, Jon, I assume that if the Diesel has a problem and can't start, you have a service plan that will have a backup generator or a crew of mechanics poring over it in, say, three hours or less?," I asked.

    Frowning, Jon took out a small pad and scribbled some notes on it. We smiled at each other and went to lunch. That's how he and I operated all the time we were together. And it was wonderful.


    Ft. Collins 1987 - 2002




    June 1978 - September 1979 (1 year 4 months)

    Off shore manufacturing facility development



    June 1974 - June 1978 (4 years 1 month)

    Quality Assurance

    Research and Development


    Communications Technician

    United States Navy Reserve

    September 1966 - October 1974 (8 years 2 months)

    Denver, Colorado

    Pensacola, Florida

    Kamasaya, Japan


    Branch Operations Manager Gart Brothers Sporting Good

    [a.k.a. "Tom Hardy, Boy Wonder of the West" or THBWOTW, as I sometimes called him..

    June 1966 - September 1972 (6 years 4 months)

    One of my favorite stories is the one Jon told of the time he worked for Gart Brothers.

    To boost sales and create visibility for the firm, he took on the THBWOTW persona as The "Outdoorsman Expert" for the firm. One day they decided to have a sale or something like that, and asked Jon if he could do "something neat" to kick off the festivities. "How about if I rappel off the roof of the Gart Brothers building, down the front and land right at the sidewalk?" he suggested. The management agreed, and Jon started doing some homework.

    Of course he had all the rappelling gear and clips and safety harnesses, and a strong belay on the roof. Then he chose his rope carefully and even more carefully measured it.

    The time came for the event. A loudspeaker announced the event, and Jon waved from the top of the building and tossed the rope off the edge and down the side of the building.

    The crowd looked puzzled, because the rope's end dangled about twenty feet or more above the sidewalk! Had Jon miscalculated? Would he try to jump the last two stories to the ground?

    Jon began his descent.

    And of course, as he descended, his weight was borne by a longer and longer part of the rope, so it stretched... more and more, the further he descended towards the ground.

    Thanks to his calculations, when he "got to the end of his rope," it had stretched enough that his feet gently touched the sidewalk. He released the line and it sprang up two stories to its original length, and the crowd cheered.


    First rev: 08.10.2010