<<< OBITUARY - TOM GRUNDNER (1945-2011) >>>
The following was reprinted with permission from David Hayes, who posted
the original article at historicnavalfiction.com.
By David Hayes
It was with sadness that I learned of the sudden death of Tom Grundner, author
and publisher, on Sunday 11th September 2011.
Tom was a great supporter of historic naval fiction both as an author of the
Sir Sidney Smith Nautical Adventure Series and as the Senior Editor of Fireship
Press. I have never met him face to face but I regarded him as a friend and I
had worked with to bring several new novels into publication. However to limit
Tom to this career is to do him an injustice as there was far more to him than
Tom M. Grundner was born on 27 October 1945 in Clawson, Michigan (a small town
north of Detroit) and was educated at Clawson High School. He started his
university education at the Eastern Michigan University (EMU) where he received
his undergraduate degree in psychology. He was a record-breaking wide receiver
for EMU and played several seasons in the old Midwestern Professional Football
League for the Ann Arbor Vikings and later the Pontiac Firebirds. He earned a
masters degree in human learning from the Institute for Behavioral Research in
Silver Spring, Maryland, a second masters in education from the University of
Southern California and a doctorate in educational philosophy and psychology,
also from USC.
He served in the U.S. Navy rising to the rank of Lt. Commander. Among various
assignments, he served a tour in-country Vietnam (call sign "Buddha") doing
coastal surveillance and coordinating swift boat patrols in the II Corp region.
While there, he won the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V", the Vietnamese
Gallantry Cross with Palm, Vietnamese Civil Action Honor Medal, a Presidential
Unit Citation, a Combat Action Device, and "a bunch of other gee-dunk medals"
(as he called them). His time in the navy spawned an interest in the 18th
Century British Navy which would be a focus of his career in later life.
He spent the majority of his academic career as a college professor on the
faculty of Case Western Reserve University, School of Medicine, in Cleveland,
Ohio. While there, he participated in the development of some of the earliest
Internet applications. Indeed, many of the Internet services we now take for
granted have their origins in his pioneering pre-World Wide Web work. The
Cleveland Free-Net and the National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN)
movement grew out of a 1984 research project conducted by Dr. Grundner, then
associated with the university's Department of Family Medicine.
He tested the applicability of delivering community health information with
a single telephone line in a system known as St. Silicon's Hospital, where
citizens could pose their questions to a board of public health experts and
receive answers within twenty-four hours. The popularity of the project
attracted financial support from AT&T and the Ohio Bell Company, which funded
a larger project. Tom designed a full-scale CMC system as a community
information resource for fields far beyond public health alone. The governor
of Ohio opened Free-Net in July 1986 and the first phase of the experiment
attracted seven thousand registered users and more than five hundred calls
a day. In 1989, a new system opened, offering access via 48 telephone lines,
including a connection to Case Western Reserve University's fiber-optic
network and, eventually, Internet. Other local Free-Nets went online and in
1989, the participating organizations decided to create the NPTN and Dr
Grundner served as it's president.
Tom was one of the nation's first newspaper computer columnists, writing
a weekly column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer beginning in 1983, and for
several years he was a talk show host on radio station WERE in Cleveland. He
has received the Alumni Achievement Award from Eastern Michigan University,
the Award of Achievement in Education from Northern Ohio LIVE magazine, was
selected as an Outstanding Young Man of America by the U.S. Jaycees, and
selected as one of the "Eighty-four Most Interesting People in Cleveland" by
In 1991 he left academia for a stint as the head of a non-profit organization,
then, in 1998, in an unusual career move he formed a for-profit company,
Marietta Golf Products making custom golf clubs. The success of this business
allowed him to devote himself increasingly to his "first love", writing,
becoming one the original investors in Fireship Press (he subsequently bought
out the others), and his experience as a clubmaker led him to write a series
of best-selling golf equipment books with noted golf club designer, Tom
Wishon. Search for the Perfect Driver (2006), The Search for the Perfect Golf
Club (2005), Ten Things You Thought You Knew About Golf Clubs (2008) and The
New Search for the Perfect Golf Club (2011).
In 1995, he was named by Newsweek magazine as one of the "50 Most Influential
People in Cyberspace"
His academic books have ranged from the ethics of human experimentation
(Informed Consent, 1986), to the problem of Internet porn (The Skinner Box
In 2006 he published an edited history of the 18th Century Royal Navy (adapted
from Geoffrey Callender's Sea Kings of Britain 1907) called: The Men Who Spoke
to Hornblower and in 2007 The Ramage Companion, a companion book to the 18
volume series of historical novels by the British author, Dudley Pope.
At the time of his death he was serving as the "Senior Editor" of Fireship
Press, based in Tucson, Arizona, and working on his current major project,
a series of novels based on the real-life exploits of Sir Sidney Smith. Book
four, Acre, of what he intended to be a nine volume series, was published in
June this year.
As he told me in a recent interview the best part was the author's he'd been
able to "discover" and bring to market such as Alaric Bond, Linda Collison and
Steven E. Maffeo.
I understand it was Tom's wish that Fireship Press would continue and his
family and staff will be doing everything possible to continue the tradition
of this noble legacy.
He will be greatly missed by all fans of the genre and our thoughts are with
his family and colleagues.
Rest in Peace.
© David Hayes
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