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ACS' Sultan of Swat Retires--Farewell to Stan Pyett


Stan Pyett earned the nickname "The Sultan of Swat" early in his career at ACS and it’s stuck ever since.  ACS folklore has two explanations for how the term "SWAT," (which is our designation for work done investigating and fixing software bugs) got started.  One is that it came from the 70s police term "SWAT team"-- an elite tactical unit using Special Weapons And Tactics.  The other option is that it stands for "SoftWare Attack Team."  Either way, Stan has made it happen for more than 25 years.

There isn’t a client company—current or former—that Stan hasn’t worked with at one time or another.  He has endeared himself to dozens of users over the years by tracking down and fixing some pretty gnarly issues that were causing said clients to tear their hair out.  Advantage users have expressed their gratitude on many occasions.

Caryn Bair, Director of Fulfillment Operations at Penton, writes on behalf of her team:   "We all think Stan has been a great guy to work with and feel lucky that he waited until there were some recruits in place to absorb some of his knowledge before he left us.  Whenever we have turned in CIR related CSL requests, our mantra has always been:   ‘Make sure you tell them to have Stan work on that!’  or ‘Stan will know exactly what I am talking about – just ask when we can talk to him!’ 

No matter how frazzled our side was, Stan always had such a calm demeanor that you just trusted him to get your job done—and he did.  We will all miss him and hope he plans to really enjoy his retirement."

Born in southern Virginia, Stan’s family moved to Ohio and he attended the University of Akron where he earned a degree in English.  He learned Fortran and IBM 1620 machine language in his initial computer course in college, which was used at his first job.  However, his undergrad studies were interrupted by a stint in the Army Signal Corps, including time in Viet Nam, where, he says, he learned to get along with all sorts of people. 

When he came back to work after the military, the company (actually a hospital) was changing to IBM 360’s and so he learned COBOL.  At a later job, he picked up CICS (IBM’s first screen display language). 

Several years later, he went to graduate school in Illinois at Trinity Evangelical School and not only earned a graduate degree there, but also met and married his wife, Jocelyn.  After graduation, her best friend invited them to come to Michigan—and the couple moved to the Ann Arbor area where they have been ever since.  Stan held several programming and analyst jobs before joining Advantage—then T & B Computing—in February 1986.

He was assigned to SWAT right away and although he has worked for different bosses and seen countless reorganizations and company changes and location moves, he has kept on "swatting" away for nearly three decades.

"Stan and I go way back," says Nikki Lorenz of Kalmbach Publishing. "It’s hard for me to imagine Advantage without him. One of the things I appreciated most about working with Stan is that he communicated directly with me when working on an issue and provided just the right level of detail for me. This not only saved time but eliminated any risk of misinterpretation by a "middle man". He will definitely be missed!"

Support Center Manager Ev Acton says of Stan:   "There are so many things I’ll miss about Stan….his wit, his wisdom---his Boy Scout attitude---always willing to help and take my phone call or join in on a call with a client.  I have to say----Stan has always made my team’s life so much easier.  We love him and the clients love him too."

In addition to the friends he has made over the years, Stan has enjoyed the challenge of investigating and solving software bugs.  His favorite thing to work on has been "a well-researched bug that isn’t a "rush" job."  His work days varied in that some days he would juggle multiple issues while at other times he’d work on one item for several days.

Samantha Hinkley at OUP has called Stan a "superstar detective sleuth."

Judy Bramlett, Customer Relations Manager at Boy Scouts sends her best regards: "It was always a pleasure working with you, Stan.  I hope you have a long and happy retirement."

  "‘Config is’ is what I typically associate with Stanley," says Peter Loftus, Circulation Business Manager at SRDS.  "In the 14 years I’ve known him, Stan has worked on numerous items for us at SRDS, and has been most adept at solving problems.  Stan has proven himself to be patient, thorough, and tireless when it has come to fixing our issues.  And after he installs the "fix" in our test area, he always finishes with the statement, "Config is …….." 

Stan, I wish you all the best as you move on to the next stage of your life and I will surely miss working with you.  Thank you for everything, Stan!"

Andy Wright, Systems Manager at Oxford University Press, waxes eloquently about the soon-to-retire Sultan of Swat: "Stan, me old mucker, the day OUP has long dreaded is finally upon us and you are on your way.

Your efforts to ensure that our issues continued to head out the door is the stuff of legend – King of the FOIs, Lord Catch-ups; at the very least, a knighthood, so that from henceforth you should be known as Sir CIR. Your email exchanges with Graham rivalled the old Norse sagas in their duration and scale with the BKI issue, and like the greatest of the sagas, appears to be an epic that will now be carried on and written by more than one generation.

On a more serious note, I’ve very much appreciated all the work you have done for us. You have combined an extensive knowledge of the software with an understanding of our business and our needs, approaching everything with a perfect balance of dedication, professionalism, and just the right amount of subversive humour to keep everything in perspective. You epitomise all that is good about ACS and you will be greatly missed.

I wish you all the best, Stan, and hope you get to do all those things you were kept from when looking after us.  Best wishes from all at OUP. "

All of ACS will have a daily reminder of Stan’s absence because he will no longer be here to supply our laugh of the day.  For more years than he can remember, Stan has taken it upon himself to post cartoons each day in the ACS lunchrooms.  Ranging from New Yorker magazine cartoons, to copies of comic strips like Calvin and Hobbes, Dilbert, For Better or Worse, Foxtrot, Zits and The Far Side, ACSers have enjoyed these day brighteners, courtesy of Stan.

Stan isn’t yet sure of what he will do during retirement.  His wife, Jocelyn, a psychotherapist, will continue to work for at least another year at her position as executive director of Samaritan Counseling Services.  Stan says the only thing he knows for sure is that his first task will be convincing the couple’s two cats--Manchester and Bagheera--that breakfast can be consumed later than 6 a.m.

Whatever you decide to do, Stan, we all wish you the very best in a long and satisfying retirement.

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