Roger Hui passed away peacefully in Burnaby, British Columbia on October 16, 2021. Roger is survived by his wife Stella, their two children Nicholas and Rachel; his mother Pauline; siblings Alex (Eva), Lily (Richard), Jim (Linda), Linda (Peter); and his nieces and nephews.
Roger was born on December 29, 1953 in Hong Kong. He was the second of five children to Pauline and King. The family immigrated from Hong Kong to Canada in 1966. Roger remained a top student throughout his academic career. He obtained a BSc and a MSc in Computer Science from the University of Alberta (1977), and the University of Toronto (1981).
Roger’s Wikipedia page describes him as a computer scientist who worked on array programming languages. He worked closely with Ken Iverson, who invented the programming language APL, to co-develop J in the 1990’s. Roger and the Iversons (Ken, Jean, Eric) had since developed a deep relationship that went beyond work. Roger loved to work on APL and J. In 1996, he won the Kenneth E. Iverson Award for Outstanding Contribution to APL.
Roger and Stella married in 1999 after several years in a long-distance relationship. Together they raised their children Nicholas and Rachel. Roger loved his family. He was a responsible, accountable and dependable husband and dad who always had the best interests of his family in mind. Some fond memories include their family trips within Canada and the U.S., Denmark, Sweden, England, France, Hong Kong, China, Italy, the Maritimes, and most recently despite cancer and COVID, family times at Whistler and Harrison Hot Springs.
Roger was a man of few words and thus used his words carefully and thoughtfully. He was a man of integrity who stood by his word. Roger had an exceptional memory, was very well read and knowledgeable. He was a historian, an archiver, and a well-seasoned traveller, having visited 23 countries.
Some leisure activities Roger enjoyed included playing sudoku, crossword puzzles, Scrabble; updating Wikipedia pages, listening to classical music, sharing jokes with Rachel, sharing hockey game highlights with Nic, and sharing life with Stella. He was a phenomenal record keeper. For example: Roger did the Grouse Grind 119 times from 2014 to 2018. His personal best was 59 minutes in 2015.
Work was a big part of Roger’s life. He realized how blessed he was to get paid for what he loved to do: coding and working on APL and J. It was clear in recent years that Roger was a legend in his work community. He was described as “clear, firm, intelligent, decisive, kind and gentle all rolled into one.” Morten and Gitte, Roger’s managers since 2008 when Roger started working for Dyalog, called him a “humorous gourmet”. During the last month of Roger’s life, Morten flew in from Denmark to visit Roger, to thank him for his enormous contributions in his work on APL.
Roger had been battling cancer since early 2019. During this almost 3 years period, he continued to work and displayed a positive attitude in living well with cancer. Some observed that Roger had become more joyful and open to chat. He often helped others by reminding them to do timely check-ups in order to prevent serious health conditions. Roger liked to recite Psalms and had memorized a number of them. He gave two testimonies in May 2019 and March 2021 to help people inside and outside the Christian community. He was determined to live well and die well. During Roger’s last 2.5 months, he carefully planned times to dine out with his mom and each sibling’s family at fine dining restaurants, to spend precious time with them over nice meals while he could still eat. As time went on and day to day life got harder he continued to recite psalms and participate in online worship while keeping a routine at home. He never gave up on his faith in God. On October 16, 2021 around noon, Roger was surrounded by his wife and their two children at his bedside in the hospice, when he was sent off into God’s loving hands, to enjoy eternal life with our creator God.
Eric Iverson, who was like Roger’s brother, said “Yes, Roger was a coder extraordinaire. But what was important is that he was a rock-solid good person. His calm and measured way in life and in his last years should be a model to all.”