A tribute to Marcia Kaufman: A Woman of Valor

March 26, 2017

A tribute to Marcia Kaufman: A Woman of Valor

Marcia and I would always tell people that we met in high school when we were both 15 years old. But that doesn’t tell the story of a friendship and a business partnership that began in 2003. I was an entrepreneur at a crossroads of my career. I had lost the company I had started in 1992 and walked away from a company that I started in 2002. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next and I will admit that I was afraid that I would fail. Then one day I got a phone call from Marcia. We had been in touch off and on over the years. Marcia too was at a crossroads. She had recently left a job as an industry analyst and was also trying to decide what to do next.

She said to me, “If you are thinking about starting another company I am interested.” To be truthful, I wasn’t sure that I was ready for what I knew would be difficult. But I agreed that we should meet for coffee. Despite my misgivings, and perhaps because of Marcia’s infectious optimism, I decided that it made sense to give it a try.

And I was right. It was hard. In the beginning we struggled to find projects and position our very tiny company. We taught each other a lot about working as a team, about technology, and about having fun while working hard. I could tell you hundreds of stories about our adventure over 13 years. There was the time that we worked all Christmas day so that we could finish a research paper. I could tell you about the one time that Marcia yelled at the top of her lungs at a freelance researcher who was working with us on a project. It was unusual because Marcia could get along with everyone – except this one very annoying writer. I could tell you about all the times that we would meet at the airport to go to conferences in Las Vegas. While I dreaded going to Vegas, it energized her. She made these trips fun. She loved the concerts that took place during the shows. She loved to dance and sing. I often left early to get some sleep. But Marcia never seemed to tire and stayed long after I went to bed.

I would often push us to take on new projects, such as the many books we wrote together. She would look at me as though I was crazy (which I probably was) but she would never say no. Even when she was sick, we worked together on the hardest writing project we ever undertook – cognitive computing and big data analytics. It was a wonderful book and a testament to Marcia’s brilliance and perseverance.

Over the last three years, it became harder and harder for Marcia to work. This made her angry, because she loved researching, learning, and writing. Over the years, she became a master writer. She was widely respected and deeply loved. She would tell me in moments when the two of us were together how very sick she was. She was quite aware of her condition, but she continued to work. When she couldn’t come into the office, she would work at home. Her doctor was shocked that she was still working. In fact, I remember Marcia telling me that her doctor expected her to stop working and just take care of herself. She continued to work until the disease finally made it impossible. With every setback she would first say to me, ‘”Oh, Judith, I just got such bad news. And in the next sentence she would tell me, “…but I am going to beat it.” In fact, the last time I visited Marcia when she was in rehab two weeks before she died, she told me that she had come to accept what was happening to her. But in characteristic Marcia fashion, her next words were, ‘”But I am still going to fight.”

This is at least the 6th draft of this note I that I have written, trying to capture the Marcia knew I loved Marcia as a friend and colleague. I miss her strength, her honesty, her intensity, her kindness, her elegance, and her love of life. I don’t think that I will ever meet another person like Marcia. She held onto life with such fervor.

As brokenhearted as I am, I know that Marcia lived life as fully as anyone I have ever known. I will miss you forever and you will always be in my heart.

Judith Hurwitz ,
About Judith Hurwitz

Judith Hurwitz is an author, speaker and business technology consultant with decades of experience.