Remembering our friend Winston

“Impedance mismatch.” It’s a funny little phrase to hear in everyday conversation, but one that Winston Hendrickson—longtime VP of engineering for Photoshop and many other Adobe efforts, friend and mentor to more people than I could possibly count—liked to sprinkle into chats. He’d use it to flag things that just didn’t make sense, little disconnects in the universe.

I’ve been thinking of it ever since learning yesterday that Winston had passed away following a long illness. I still can’t believe I’m typing these words. Something in the universe feels disconnected, out of phase.

NewImage

As the dozens of remembrances now flooding Facebook can tell you, Winston was a beloved dad, respected leader, and passionate photographer. After years at Apple leading teams that began the Mac OS turnaround, he’d spent more than 17 years driving development at Adobe. We worked closely together to launch Adobe Bridge, helping tie together the very first version of Creative Suite.

I was a bit surprised later when Winston came over to lead Adobe’s digital imaging teams. I hadn’t realized that on any given weekend you’d likely find him lugging a 600mm lens & big SLR to his daughters’ softball games, an auto race at Laguna Seca, or a photo walk up California’s coastline. Photography took him from Tasmania to Antarctica and beyond, shooting everything from modern dance to SWAT teams in training. (See more here & here.) Winston had that special quality that distinguishes many key leaders at Adobe—a deep and passionate connection to the work, the tools, and most importantly the fellow practitioners we felt privileged to call customers.

I haven’t seen Winston in just over a year, since the day he dropped by to help my kids and many others explore some new Adobe augmented reality tools. He was exactly as he’d always been, looking good & always ready to share a salty joke. (Whenever we’d hear self-congratulation getting a little thick over the years, we loved deflating it by invoking Pulp Fiction’s Winston Wolf: “Well, let’s not start…” I’ve gotta think he’d laugh out loud hearing that reference stuck in a eulogy.)

NewImage

Therefore yesterday’s news came as a shock. “The only easy day was yesterday,” said a sign on Winston’s door. Well, yesterday wasn’t.

I’ve struggled to write any kind of worthwhile tribute, to find some Big & Meaningful Theme. Listening to colleagues’ and friends’ remembrances, though, I’ve started to think more in terms of a mosaic: we all reach back across time, pulling up whatever bunch of shining fragments we can, and we lay them together to draw the outlines of a life.

“Should you live for your résumé or your eulogy?” Winston’s life showed how one can serve both, and we’re all blessed for it. Thanks for everything, big guy, and safe travels. —J.

NewImage

13 thoughts on “Remembering our friend Winston

  1. John, This is a lovely tribute to Winston. Thank you for sharing the words and the photo of his smile! What a wonderful man he was and I’m sure he will continue to touch us all in some way.

    Hugs to you and your family,
    Mally

  2. The only measure I have of Winston is the impact he’s had on others, since I only met him sporadically over the years. But the awe, respect, and love I saw from others was inspiring and just a touch intimidating. Those qualities have been shared and magnified much since his death, and so the measure I now have is beyond reckoning.

    What a beautiful thing to bring such riches to the world.

  3. What a tribute to a man so worthy! Thanks for saying what so many of us feel. The world is better for having had Winston in it. My life richer for knowing him. And now the world loses a great leader, person and just quality person.

  4. Thank you for all the great memories you captured for our family! Winston has given us a peace of him that we will forever cherish. Rest In Peace! May his family find peace and happiness knowing that Winston touched so many of us.

  5. Thank you so much for this, John. I didn’t know him nearly as well as others but, three times today, I’ve had to change course in my daily work because his is such a vast loss. I love that he will continue to live on in the DNA of our company – our code, our products. Sad, sad day. Thank you.

  6. So sorry to hear this. I worked on Bridge back in the day for Winston and one of my enduring Adobe memories is the time I caught a ride from some team outing back to San Jose with Winston in his pickup truck. I wasn’t quite sure about riding with the boss, but we talked the whole drive about our families, work, photography, the truck, whatever, and before I knew it we were back. Ok, I know its not an exciting story, but its my small example of his kindness. He was a good guy to hitch a ride with and a pleasure to work for. Rest in peace Winston.

  7. “For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity.”
    – William Penn

    Very saddened to hear this news, but we won’t forget you Winston. Thank you for everything you’ve done to make our world a better place.

    1. I am a peripheral player in his life, having been a college softball mom. I was impressed with his willingness, and interest to share a few tidbits about the evolution of the photoshop program I was immersed in since PS3.
      He was intrigued by my feedback on the then new Lightroom issue interfaced with Photoshop and I was impressed he lived his technology as a photographer.
      His is a glittering legacy, and I benefitted greatly from it as a digital artist, and fellow softball parent. You cannot fill those shoes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.