IBM Tucson dedication day

The Arizona sun shines on a new home

The following is the text of an article published in 1987 in Panorama, an employee publication of the IBM General Products Division.

Would it rain on IBM's parade? That was everyone's question as the long-awaited GPD Tucson dedication day at the Rita Road site got closer.

But the unseasonable rain and wind kept on, pelting and buffeting the special tents in the Building 061 parking lot and the stage and bleachers behind Building 060 set up for guests, entertainers, employees and spouses.

Employees in at least two departments on site were keeping their fingers crossed as they surveyed the gloomy skies. Medical, which had wanted cool weather for everyone's comfort, and facilities, which had hoped for a smattering of rain to settle the construction dust, were both doing an about-face and wishing for at least a small ray of the normally ever-present Arizona sunshine.

Thankfully, the weatherman cooperated. Friday, October 17, 1980, dawned bright and sunny, with just a touch of football season crispness in the air.

"It was unbelievable," says Jean Bohlinger, then a secretary specialist and now a senior procedures analyst. "The day before I was sloshing through the parking lot, ruining a good pair of shoes, and the next day, basking in sunshine."

All of the months of preparation and hard work sitewide to make GPD Tucson's dedication a success came together that day, just as the weather had.

"It was a memorable occasion," says Marysue Henderson, then a programming librarian and now an administrative analyst. "I had only been with GPD Tucson a few months and, although I knew IBM would do its best to make the day special for all employees, I just wasn't prepared for such an event. I'm sure everyone who attended came away with a feeling of pride. I know that I did."

That morning's dedication ceremonies, with all employees assembled, included a kaleidoscope of speakers and entertainment.

John Carter, then site general manager, opened festivities recognizing the commitment and hard work of employees to make the site a productive IBM facility. Frank T. Cary, then IBM chairman of the board, addressed the crowd and officially dedicated the site. The keynote speaker was Bruce Babbitt, Arizona's governor at the time. Also in attendance was Congressman Morris Udall.

Interspersed with the speeches were performances by "Up With People" and the Tucson Symphony.

"There are no words to describe how perfect the day was," says Joe Martone, site services manager. "Whenever anyone mentions dedication to me, I recall the sound of the Davis-Monthan [Air Force base] jets 'fly by' just as we were finishing 'The National Anthem.' It shook the stands. I'm not ashamed that it brought tears to my eyes -- and I know that I was not alone."

The festivities did not end when the stage and bleachers were emptied. Employees were treated to lunch under the big top, and the next day -- another beautiful, sunny day -- was the site open house for employees, their families and guests. A myriad of displays and demonstrations throughout the site showed off the various aspects of GPD Tucson operations.

With the bright, warm sun shining down, the dedication ceremonies were an unqualified success. It was official -- IBM had a new home in Tucson, Arizona.