Gerald Franklin Rollo passed away peacefully February 1, 2023, at home in Poughkeepsie, New York. While he was alive, he really lived as a great father, grandfather, husband, fiancé, pilot, race car driver, skier, golfer, hunter, innovator and much more. Born in Johnson City, New York to Ida and Nelson Rollo on January 30, 1934. He grew up in the Binghamton area, with his older brother Donald Rollo, playing with friends, hunting, and having all the crazy adventures kids could have in the 1940’s. In his teens he became a nationally recognized free flight model airplane builder, competing against adults and winning contests across the country. He attended Broome Tech earning an Associate Degree and then matriculated to Vanderbilt University where he earned a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1955.
At Vanderbilt, he built his first race car from the ground up, he was also a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Coming from humble beginnings, being accepted into a wealthy fraternity came with unexpected perks, including servants, cooks, and a juvenile lion. The big cat was given to a zoo, after chasing a pack of dogs through downtown Nashville. After graduation, he was accepted to Harvard Business School, but chose to go to work at IBM as an engineer instead. During the late 50’s and early 60’s he raced sports cars, his favorite was a Morgan.
He began his career at General Electric, after Broome Tech, landing a prestigious entry level position, but quickly realized his passion, Electrical Engineering, required a 4-year degree. He pursued a degree at Vanderbilt and worked full time as an auto mechanic. After graduation, he went to work at IBM in Binghamton where he excelled in multiple areas. In 1965 moved to Poughkeepsie New York. Early in his career, he was asked to improve the organizations chip business, which was rejecting $1BB worth of out of specification wafers a year. The problem had been studied by teams for years, without success. In his usual unassuming way, he walked into the clean room and asked what was being measured? The response was each chip was measured to the 10 microns. He then asked, how accurate the microscope was, it was 15 microns. He said measure each 3 times. Walking out after 15 minutes, saving the company $1BB a year. In what was a rare display, IBM publicly awarded him $1,000, a large sum at the time. In Poughkeepsie he worked on many projects, including supercomputing and earned a patent for Massive Parallel Processing. He retired in 1992. In his post retirement, he was always helping his sons to build up their businesses.
In 1957 he met Barbara Nealon at a party, and had their first date at Sharky’s, where they ate Spiedies and clams, and he forgot his wallet. Despite the early speed bump, they were married February 27, 1960, in Binghamton, New York. They moved to their forever home in 1965 on Pleasant Ridge Drive. They were blessed with 3 children, Scott, David, and Rachel. They also had 4 dogs, with a special affection for Chips and Speck. The house was never idle, with constant projects underway. From basic motorcycle maintenance, skateboard half and quarter pipes, to full restoration of a crashed airplane, he was always getting his hands dirty and having fun. In 2016 he met Sheila Reiher at an event and was immediately smitten, the two were engaged in 2019.
Gerry was a devout Catholic and believed in Jesus Christ as his lord and savior. He was a kind and generous man, always supportive and willing to help anyone he could. Those who knew him couldn’t help but be influenced by his enthusiasm. Eternally optimistic, we’re sure he still thinks he’s going to make it. The family sends special thanks to his favorite caregiver, home aids, and Hospice for the wonderful care they showered on him.
He was widowed in 2010 after 50 years of marriage to Barbara. His memory lives on by a loving family, including fiancé Sheila, older brother Don and wife Joanne, children and their spouses, Scott and Carol, David and Mellonie, Rachel and Greg, grandchildren, Jacquie, River, Kieran, David Mason, and Wyatt.
A private viewing and service will be held on Saturday February 11th. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of Gerald Rollo.
Funeral Arrangements are being handled by the Timothy P. Doyle Funeral Home 371 Hooker Ave Poughkeepsie, New York 12603