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R.I.P. Dutch Hemler – Solid, Loyal, & Wise

Pennsylvania Dutch evokes an image of an oak tree. Something that is

  • solid and firmly planted in the ground. 
  • loyal and true.
  • wise, yet ageless.

It is appropriate, that Jerome Hemler got his nickname thanks to his Hanover heritage. 

Dutch had a great story about how he got that moniker. And like many of his stories, many of the common elements were in that tale; the Navy, a bar, and friendships forged in adversity.

Dutch’s stories were legendary. His descriptions brought you to the scene, whether it was lying in a trench in Vietnam in the midst of enemy soldiers, or trading barbs with a Marine, or orchestrating a practical joke. If not for payback on one particular practical joke, his trajectory might have been different. 

But that path led to the love of his life and a post-military chapter where his positive impact was felt by a whole new set of people. Dutch personified the unsung contribution of the Navy to Silicon Valley in the 1970s and 1980s.

Moffett Field, Dutch’s final post in a 20-year Navy career, was a feeder to Silicon Valley companies needing technicians with practical electronic skills. These ex-Navy folks, like Dutch, were unsung heroes in propelling Silicon Valley ahead of other regional technology rivals.

But, Dutch was a cut above in terms of understanding how things worked. His ability to learn was manifested in how he was able to transition between companies that made equipment for cable television operators, mass spectrometers for analyzing chemical compounds, and fiber optic equipment for telecom companies. His technical abilities didn’t stop at work, as he could build virtually anything, whether it be a construction project or rebuilding a boat engine (thanks, Dutch).

It was his people skills that elevated Dutch above the crowd. I always had the sense that the people who worked for Dutch put him on a pedestal. It is probably because he did the same for them. He always put his people first, whether his staff, friends, or family. 

Dutch Hemler and Ken Pyle circa September, 1996.
Dutch Hemler and Ken Pyle circa Sept. 1996.

Dutch wasn’t afraid to give a well-reasoned, straightforward opinion. He was also quick with a well-timed and witty, oftentimes, self-deprecating comment. It was such fun to be around him. 

And although it’s been way too many years since our physical paths crossed, his comments and wisdom are with me every day, as they probably are with the countless people he touched. It was such a privilege to be part of Dutch’s orbit of family and friends. Surely, like the acorns of a mighty oak tree, Dutch’s influence will live on through his friends and family.

Author Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

By Ken Pyle, Managing Editor

Ken Pyle is Marketing Director for the Broadband Forum. The mission of this 25+-year-old non-profit “is to unlock the potential for new markets and profitable revenue growth by leveraging new technologies and standards in the home, intelligent small business, and multi-user infrastructure of the broadband network.”

He is also co-founder of Viodi, LLC and Managing Editor of the Viodi View, a publication focused on the rural broadband ecosystem, autonomous vehicles, and electric aviation. He has edited and produced numerous multimedia projects for NTCA, US Telecom and Viodi. Pyle is the producer of Viodi’s Local Content Workshop, the Video Production Crash Course at NAB, as well as ViodiTV. He has been intimately involved in Viodi’s consulting projects and has created processes for clients to use for their PPV and VOD operations, as well authored reports on the independent telco market.

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