Werner Buchholz

On Thursday July 11, 2019, Werner Buchholz, a computer science pioneer, passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 96. Werner was born on October 24, 1922, in Detmold, Germany. The son of a Jewish leather merchant, Werner just after turning 16 was sent by his parents to the safety of England before the onset of World War II. Like with Japanese Americans, England rounded up these Jewish teenagers and put them in detention camps. His parents, Julius and Elsa, were killed in concentration camps. Werner was transferred to another detention camp in Canada where, after some time, members of the Toronto Jewish community sponsored him to attend the University of Toronto. After receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees there, he earned his PhD in electrical engineering at Caltech.

IBM hired him in 1949 to work in Poughkeepsie, NY, at the very beginning of their commercial computer development. There they replaced punched card electronic computing with the much faster magnetic tape process for storing large files. Werner participated in a new government project for the Korean War that led to the IBM 701 and 702 computers. They next developed the “supercomputer” called Stretch, taking advantage of the change from vacuum tubes to transistor technology. This is when these computer designers began being known as system architects. In 1956, Werner coined the term “byte” to denote a small group of bits, but he never thought this much of an accomplishment. He continued to work at IBM until retiring in 1990.

Werner married Anna Frances Odor, a Kentucky-born, Methodist-turned-Quaker, professor of German at Vassar College, in 1952. With Werner’s highly-engaged support, Ann Buchholz went on to become a local community leader, one of the first Democratic women elected to high office in this relatively conservative area of New York. They had two sons together, John who died in a car crash in 1975, and Sham Rang Singh Khalsa who is an emergency physician in Massachusetts. Werner was preceded in death by Ann in 2007. He is also survived by two grandchildren, Gurushabd Khalsa and Sarang Khalsa, who reside in the Seattle area.

Werner asked that there be no funeral services. He asked that, instead of flowers, for those who wish to honor him in death, that gifts can be sent to Poughkeepsie Monthly Meeting of Friends, 249 Hooker Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY, 12603.


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25 Condolences

  1. Dharma Kaur Khalsa & Gurumeet Singh Khalsa on July 16, 2019 at 12:04 am

    Our prayers are with you in celebration of such a special life of your father. We are very blessed to have had him in this world and blessed to have you Sham Rang Singh and your family.

  2. Nazanin Zahra Sanrajpreet Rai Kaur Khalsa on July 16, 2019 at 12:26 am

    What a luminous soul he was who left descendents of even higher caliber in love and service on earth. May he continue in divine love and peace. May family and friends be showered by graceful patience in his physical absence

  3. Harbhajan Kaur on July 16, 2019 at 12:40 am

    Thanks for sharing the inspiring life of your father, Sham Rang Singh. Despite all suffering or hardship, he obviously had indomitable, “keep up” spirit and a character that strove for – and achieved – excellence. He is a model one can be proud of – as I’m sure he has been of you. Love and prayers for your entire family.

  4. Pam DeCisero on July 16, 2019 at 12:45 am

    Sham Rang and family,
    Our deepest sympathies. Pam and Phil

  5. Sat Siri Kaur on July 16, 2019 at 12:53 am

    Dear Sham Rang Singh,

    Please accept my sincere condolences on the death of your father. What an amazing life and what brilliance he brought to the world! We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors. May peace be with you now and forever.

  6. Mary Ellen ogilvie on July 16, 2019 at 1:08 am

    Dear Dr. Khalsa, I am so sorry to learn of your fathers passing. It hurts so much to lose one we love so much. Thinking of you and sending love.

  7. Pranava (Carl Ploss) on July 16, 2019 at 1:35 am

    Grateful for the blessings of a life that was and continues to be lived for others, Sham Rang Singh, I mourn your loss, our loss, and invoke the higher teachings to bear witness to your continuation of his service. Thank you and God bless.

  8. Japa Kaur Khalsa on July 16, 2019 at 2:08 am

    Blessed to read this historic life and know where the term “byte” came from. What an incredible man who left a legacy of learning and we are so grateful for all of your service Dr. Sham Rang now I see the magic father who helped bring you here.

  9. Karta Purkh Singh & Sat Inder Kaur Khalsa on July 16, 2019 at 2:21 am

    What a significant life of service and a brilliant legacy. We send condolences and prayers for his divine soul to merge with the One and his family to find peace and joy in your memories.

  10. Parampal Kaur Khalsa Polly Ann & family on July 16, 2019 at 2:39 am

    Akaal! akaal akaal
    Our condolences & support to you! & your loved ones. Holding you in our hearts! Quite an extraordinary human being! Love The Atkinson family

  11. Satya Rajpreet Kaur aka Jen Judd on July 16, 2019 at 3:08 am

    What a full life he led! My blessings are with him and the family he leaves behind.

  12. Dharam Singh on July 16, 2019 at 5:07 am

    To be a great dad and a good ancestor is not a given. What he had to overcome would have made many of us fold, but he exceled. I’m glad he transitioned peacefully and pray his soul transits without transmigration. I only wish his other son/your brother had been here a lot longer.


  13. Siri Krishna Kaur and Sat Bir Singh on July 16, 2019 at 10:55 am

    Words are never adequate in moments like these. It is never easy to lose a parent, no matter your age. We pray for your peace and comfort as you continue your life journey without his earthly presence. Your father had a beautiful smile, and the kindest eyes from the picture. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers, Sham Rang Singh ji. send with love

  14. Iswardhev Kaur on July 16, 2019 at 11:08 am

    The love and joy of his life continue and prayer and love to you Sham Rang Sing, continue the eternal song Akal Siri Akal
    Blessing and love ❤️

  15. sada anand singh on July 16, 2019 at 11:17 am

    The day of marriage of the soul-bride has dawned. Hallelujah, akal, sat nam, wahe guru. Sounds like he was like many of our parents–inspirational and serviceful. And surely you must have, through your successes, inspired him too to live such a long and productive life.

  16. Surpreet Kaur on July 16, 2019 at 11:26 am

    Very sorry for your loss. I’m sure he’ll continue to be an inspiration. Bless you and all who loved him.

  17. Karam Singh Khalsa on July 16, 2019 at 11:58 am

    What amazing parents you chose to go thru this life with- blessings for you and your family-

  18. Guru Shabd Kaur on July 16, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    Many Blessings for only good memories my Friend❣️

  19. Shiva Singh Khalsa on July 16, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    Sat Nam, We love our parents and when they leave their bodies it can be a surprise, they are sometimes immortal for us. We don’t lose something that is never lost. Blessings.

  20. Awtar Kaur Khalsa on July 16, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    Thank you for introducing him to me. I am grateful to him (and you)! I am grateful for him and you.

  21. Inzan Kate Crisp on July 17, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Sad to hear this Sham Rang—your parents both sound like extraordinary beings —big loss. Love ❤️

  22. Sat Siri Singh on July 17, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    Dear Sham Rang

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. Chanted Akaal this morning

    Sending love and light your way

  23. Gurukarm Kaur on July 17, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    I was so glad to speak with you the other day, Sham Rang, about your dad’s extraordinary life (that he was still, apparently, so humble about!) Thank you for sharing your thoughts about him with me. Blessings to you.

  24. Hari Kirin & Peter on July 17, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    An amazing life story. May all the people and circumstances that foster hope and healing be close by, always.

  25. Laura on November 8, 2020 at 4:13 am

    We met while in high school and you and your parents were home to me until your calling drew us apart. My grandmother avoided our Quaker wedding ceremony as we were not married before a Catholic priest. She joined our reception in tears but blessed us both in love. She always loved you and commented that “…Danny should have become a priest”. Well Dan, you did become a priest. I have lived a different life than you but have kept touch with our roots in Dutchess County. I spoke to Mama and mourned her loss. I mourned Papa’s loss as well. Werner and Ann live in my heart. So much love. Blessings, Laura

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