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Our Industry Grieves the Loss of a Legend and Mentor – Dick Morley, the Father of the PLC

Dick Morley - Father of the PLC Rivergate Marketing

Sadly, the world lost a legend in his own time last Tuesday evening with the passing of Dick Morley. Dick was best known as the inventor or ‘father’ of the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), but he was also known to many in our community as a mentor.

I was lucky enough to have met Dick when I traveled to ‘The Barn’ 3 years ago with Sam Hoff, CEO of Patti Engineering, to interview Dick for a newsletter article. I enjoyed writing the article about Dick as he was so forthcoming with not only his professional successes, but his personal life as well. I have received many comments and responses through the years as readers enjoyed learning the interesting and surprising personal side of the pioneer who impacted the industrial automation industry in such a profound way. From his great love for his wife, Shirley, who caught his eye in a bar arm wrestling, to the fact that the PLC was discovered as the result of a New Year’s Eve hangover – his story does not disappoint! Sam has been a long time raving fan of Dick Morley, and if you are a Dick Morley fan as well, read and enjoy the article The Father of the PLC: Dick Morley.

Sam reflected this week, “Dick was an optimist, innovator, and a visionary. Every time I met Dick it was a memorable experience and he gave me several nuggets to use in both business and life. He and his wife Shirley were very giving as they took in many, many foster kids over the years. He is now reunited with the love of his life. In conclusion, the best thing to say about Dick is “Life Well Lived.”

Georgia Whalen with Dick Morley at Tribute PartyThrough the years of working in our industry, I have found that Sam was certainly not alone in his admiration for Dick. In December of 2014, I was invited to a well-attended tribute celebrating Dick Morley and ‘all things geek’ held at Schneider Electric in Andover, MA. There I met another raving fan, Rick Caldwell of SCADAware. Rick had come all the way from Illinois to be at the event to honor Dick, his great friend and mentor. You can read more about Dick from Rick’s perspective on SCADAware’s website –  In Appreciation for Dick Morley.

Ironically, I spoke with Rick on Tuesday of last week, the day Dick died and Rick said he was trying to plan a trip to visit Dick. I called Rick on Friday to see if I could include a comment from him in this article. Here is what Rick had to say: “Dick Morley’s legacy as a mentor, innovator, and inspiration extends well beyond his many professional accomplishments. To me, his openness to possibility—characterized by a seemingly endless stream of “big ideas”—and his personable humility make him stand apart from other innovators across all industries. He was a friend to me for 25 years and had a profound effect on me, in the way I think and how I look at things. I will miss him greatly.”

A fund has been set up to provide a memorial and a scholarship in his honor.  If you wish to make a contribution, you can visit the GoFundMe page here.


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