Shall Miss You John and Len

By Terry Blevins, Fellow of The Open Group

This last week we lost two great contributors in the Enterprise Architecture community. I am saddened more than anyone could imagine by the passing of John Spencer and Len Fehskens of The Open Group who were both friends and colleagues. We all are no doubt overwhelmed by their passing. Maybe it will help us all to take time to remember their contributions and memories. If inclined to do so, respond with your own.

John Spencer

For me, John’s inspiration was the reason I got involved in The Open Group starting back in 1996. He was also responsible for encouraging my continued relationship with The Open Group in many different capacities over these 21 years. Early on, John challenged me and others in the Architecture Forum with very practical questions – “what difference does it make, why would anyone care, how do you really do this” – were just a few of John’s questions whose answers were critical to improving the TOGAF® ADM over the years. His encouragement was always timely and helped move things forward when bogged down. After discussions with him, he would often say – “OK let’s just do it” and we did. One of John’s gentle pushes, and how questions, resulted in writing the Managers Guide to Business Scenarios and another was what we called the “webification” of TOGAF. Always pushing forward – John kept me doing things!

Len Fehskens

Len complemented this by keeping me, and others, thinking. He addressed things from a different perspective – his favorite questions were what does that actually mean and how is that different from that? Where John was extremely practical, Len was very cerebral. Len pushed for clarity and sought out the optimum. Len challenged everyone with his talks, making everyone think very hard about any fundamentals that could impact the discipline. John was about doing things right and Len about doing the right things! A dynamic duet that worked together, yet at a distance from each other.

I will miss my discussions with Len about architecture, shared love for cats, and his great pictures including one of his cats flying in midair! I will miss the debates with Len – no, we didn’t always have the same meaning of terms. I will miss the dinners with John, when we both got away from a conference and discussed our wives – Janie and Angela – life, philosophy, physics, travel, books – John read a lot more than I!

I am so grateful to have known these two gentlemen.

(For the announcement by The Open Group and the AEA, please visit here.)


  1. Terry,
    What a poignant and fitting tribute to both amazing men. John and I worked together as colleagues for almost 20 years and then, on and off, for the last 12. I ran the precursor of the architecture program with CCTA funding – a project that I gladly handed over to John – who was the perfect man for the long haul of making TOGAF successful.
    As a fellow Northerner, we had many things in common and a shared love of the area we grew up in. I shall miss his quiet humor, perseverance and grace.

  2. What a lovely and fitting turn of phrase, Terry. John liked to do things right and Len like to do the right things. It was a pleasure to work with both.

  3. I didn’t know John, but I did know Len.

    Len was one of the “good guys”. aka he searched for the truth and spent his time trying to improve things unlike the many who spend all their time on politics and making themselves look good.

    See you later Len. I expect a logical review of the pearly gates when I get there!

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