Yesterday I learned that a former colleague, Neil Roiter, passed away on Sunday from an inoperable brain tumor. We worked together at TechTarget for several years, and I’m a richer man for it.
Neil was a journalist’s journalist, a stickler for details and truth. As a tech reporter, he didn’t just quote security vendors about what their products did and why they were worth the customer’s money; he made them prove it. He’d put the technology to the test, finding experts who could take things apart to see what made them tick.
But that’s not what my affection for Neil was about. It was the quick-witted family man I was proud to call a friend.
I remember him leaving work minutes after arriving to drive the hour back home to help his family. I laughed my ass off one day as he gave his daughter, Tess, a talking to on the phone. The young lady replied to all his questions by Instant Messenger even though they were on the phone together. The more she did it, the louder Neil’s voice got and the more I chuckled from my desk, next to his.
Whatever they were arguing about, Neil didn’t give up on her. He stayed on the phone and talked her through her problem long past the point where many parents would have slammed the phone down in frustration.
The love he had for his kids was on display every day. He’d spend an hour on the phone with Andrew talking baseball, and he would always beam with pride every time he talked about those kids. The same could be said about his love for his wife Gwen, also a journalist. In every conversation, you easily understood how much he cherished her.
As a co-worker, Neil was a lot of fun. I remember walking the streets of Provincetown, MA, with him during a SearchSecurity group outing. The team took a shuttle boat to the small town on the tip of Cape Cod and spent an afternoon poking around shops and enjoying lunch at The Lobster Pot. Neil and I decided to have a few Irish coffees and proceeded to walk off the buzz, popping in and out of book shops and candy stores.
On the shuttle back to Boston, we talked about pretty much everything.
We liked to have a battle of wits in the office. I’d like to say I won every time, but our officemates will probably tell you otherwise. Either way, we had a lot of laughs.
After I left TechTarget, Neil and I stayed in touch, hanging out during various security conferences. I’m grateful for that.
Rest easy, Neil. We’re all going to miss you here, but you left us with plenty of sunny memories to keep us going until we meet again.
Neil’s obituary and funeral-memorial information can be found on Hathaway Family Funeral Homes’s website.