Cover photo for Albin Kolwicz's Obituary
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Albin Kolwicz

March 1, 1938 — November 28, 2021

Albin David Kolwicz of Boulder, Colorado, passed away unexpectedly but peacefully at home on November 28, 2021, from esophageal cancer. He was 83.

The son of Henry Kolwicz and Madalyn Kolaja Kolwicz, Al was born March 1, 1938, at the family farmhouse in Buttonwood, Pennsylvania. After several moves during childhood, the family settled in Miami, Florida. He graduated from the new Edward L. Constance (North Miami) High School in 1955 and the University of Florida in 1959 with a BS in Mathematics. He married Susan Lord (nee Spleet), the love of his life, on November 11, 1990, in Boulder.

In 1960, Al joined IBM as a programmer trainee at the software development laboratory in New York City. In addition to his primary assignment, Al served on a corporate committee assigned to develop standards for testing software products before they are announced or shipped. In 1961 he transferred to Poughkeepsie, NY, where he worked on the development and testing of IBM’s new mainframe operating system, OS/360. About 1965, he transferred to the new programming center in Boulder to help create IBM’s center for software development methodology. While there, he received two Outstanding Contribution Awards and was loaned to the University of Denver as Adjunct Professor in the mathematics department, teaching Operating Systems Design. He also served as Special Assistant to the Governor of Colorado, Dick Lamm.

He left IBM in 1970 to pursue his own business. He founded Systems Design and Development Corp. in Boulder. SDD created systems used by banks to connect “foreign” equipment to in-house computers, as well as a novel system called “DCATS” used to test and validate online applications. He later joined Boole & Babbage Corp. in Sunnyvale, California, as Executive Vice-President, where he oversaw the company’s return to the market. He was one of three co-founders of HaL Computer Systems in Campbell, California, which developed the first 64-bit computer and version of the UNIX operating system.

After Al returned to Boulder from California, he retired and founded the non-partisan Colorado Voter Group that included election integrity experts working to improve Colorado’s election system. Members frequently testified on statutes before the Colorado Legislature, and on election regulations at the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. Al spent the rest of his working life as an advocate for voting in person on an anonymous paper ballot, using secure, accurate, and verifiable records and procedures.

In his younger days, Al enjoyed cruising around town or the mountains in his red Alfa convertible, and white water kayaking and rock climbing with his buddies. He went to operas, concerts, museums, and palaces all over the world with Susie. A consummate ballroom dancer since college, he and Susie loved dancing to Big Band music. Together they enjoyed travelling, hiking, rafting, and wildlife watching in the U.S. and Canada, especially Alaska, New Mexico, Florida, and of course Colorado, as well as spending time on beaches and snorkeling. They became dedicated birders after they visited the Galapagos, their favorite trip. Annual trips to Hawaii and Mexico were augmented with road trips around Europe and the U.K. Later they added interesting river cruises on the Danube and the Yangtze.

Always focused on the present and the future, Al loved proposing and discussing new technology ideas and finding ways to help society. He also greatly valued participating in the literature study group at St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church. Most of all, Al cherished getting together and laughing with his dear friends and family.
Al is survived by his wife Susie, sisters Joan Burt, Christine Hirth, and Theresa Gerry, two daughters by a previous marriage, Robin Kolwicz (Phoenix) and Cheryl (James) Barnds (Takoma Park, Maryland), and three granddaughters, Chenevert, Dahlia, and Jamezen Barnds, along with many nieces and nephews (always their “Uncle Owl”). He was preceded in death by his sisters Jean Robinson and Lynn Clark.

Al chose to forego any formal celebration of life. Memorial contributions may be made to the Independence Institute at,, or any wildlife protection or conservation fund.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Albin Kolwicz, please visit our flower store.

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