Student seeks community's help in honoring professor's memory

Thursday, June 14, 2001

Lacey, Wash. - Up until his death, Ray Nix, associate professor of computer science at Saint Martin's College, had been working on a project to bring computer technology to a remote part of East Africa. Now, one of his pupils is working to make sure that dream is fulfilled.

Nix, 57, died at his Olalla, Wash. home from a heart attack on June 4. He had been teaching computer science at Saint Martin's College for 10 years.

In the year preceding his death, Nix had been advising Bryan Leyster, a senior computer science major at Saint Martin's, on the design and development of a computer for the nuns who operate an orphanage in Chipole, a small village in Tanzania, Africa.

"It's important to me that I finish this for him because it's one of the last things that he was working on and he really wanted to see it happen," Leyster said.

Leyster will be traveling to Chipole on July 17 along with Sister Beatrice Kapinga, O.S.B., Sister Redemista Ngonyani, O.S.B., and Susan Leyster, Bryan's mother and director of the Saint Martin's Spirituality Center.

Because the village does not have access to electricity or telephones, Nix and Bryan Leyster were setting up a solar powered computer that would be able to access the World Wide Web with a globular, or satellite, cell phone.

"We had set up the basic system and I am going to see what else we will need when I visit," said Bryan Leyster.

"This was an important project for professor Nix. He saw this as an opportunity for our small college to make a tremendous difference in bridging the communication gap between the nuns over there and the students studying here. His life revolved around computers, he was one of the pioneers."

Memorials are still being accepted by the Saint Martin's College office of development in Nix's name. Bryan Leyster is hoping that donations made to the memorial fund can be used to finance Nix's computer system.

"We need about $4,000 for the computer system, anything helps," Leyster said. "Professor Nix had made contacts in the community to get some of the equipment we need donated, but unfortunately he didn't leave me a list or tell me who before he died."

Prior to coming to Saint Martin's, Nix spent a total of 11 years managing computer systems for Boeing Aerospace & Electronics, Lockheed Shipbuilding Co., and Honeywell, Inc. Nix retired from the U.S. Navy in 1980, a decorated Vietnam veteran and recognized master training specialist, after having worked with state-of-the-art electronic and computing devices throughout his military career.

For more information:
Christina Ramírez-Milhoan, communications specialist
Saint Martin's College Office of Communication
360-438-4541 or cramirez@stmartin.edu