Remembering OpenSystems Co-founder Wayne Kristoff

We lost a family member over Thanksgiving. Wayne Kristoff, co-founder of OpenSystems Media, husband to our CFO and former president, Rosemary Kristoff, and patriarch to our Arizona team. Wayne lost a short battle with cancer. He was 71.

A Pittsburgh native, Wayne tired of the cold weather and moved west with his wife Rosemary in the late 1970s after a stint at General Dynamics in Rochester, New York. Later, he moved on to Motorola Computing Group in Scottsdale, Arizona, during the early days of VME, where he joined John Black and Mike Hopper to help grow a magazine based on the technology – Magazine. Later the trio formed a company called OpenSystems Publishing (OpenSystems Media today) and added more titles based on embedded computing standards such as and PC/104.

All three books still exist today, with VMEbus and CompactPCI known as VITA Technologies and PICMG Systems & Technology, respectively. Nearly four decades later, the company has products in markets such as aerospace, automotive, defense, industrial, IoT, and transportation, reaching a global audience.

Wayne had recently retired as CTO of the company and a partner as of April 1. All of us at OpenSystems Media owe a professional debt to Wayne for helping create an environment that enables us to succeed while working in a family atmosphere.

“As CTO Wayne was instrumental on the operations side of OpenSystems,” says Pat Hopper, President of OpenSystems Media. “More than anything I remember him over the years as intelligent, friendly, and a good family man.”

Personally, I’m forever grateful to Wayne, Rosemary, and Pat Hopper for bringing me on board to run the defense and aerospace arm of the company. But more than that, for immediately welcoming me like family. And to top it off, he was a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Hell, I loved him just for that.

Aside from his beloved Steelers and other Pittsburgh teams such as the Penguins and University of Pittsburgh football team, Wayne loved motorcycles, his Jaguar, coffee with his friends every morning, and listening to classic rock and blues music.

What I didn’t know was how deeply Wayne was involved in local youth sports in Fountain Hills, Arizona. According to an obituary in the Fountain Hills Times, “he was one of the dads who started the youth Fountain Hills soccer program, worked the chains during Falcon football games, was active in helping define the technological offering at the high school and offered himself as tech support to friends and family.”

What he loved more than anything was family. Wayne could talk for hours about the trips he took all over the world with Rosemary and their daughter, Corrie, who lives in Europe. They stamped their passports in London, Prague, South America, Australia, and a few other spots I’ve probably missed. Wayne also treasured the time with his grandchildren.

My OpenSystems colleague Brandon Lewis often said of Wayne, “That guy really loves his life.”

Can you blame him? Wayne lived life on his terms.

I know I will miss catching up with him on the Steelers, business, and life while smoking a cigar and drinking a glass of wine on his back porch.

We all will miss his smarts, his wit, his honesty, his loyalty to OpenSystems, and more than anything his dedication to Rosemary and their family.

We will miss our friend.

Please keep Rosemary and the Kristoff family in your thoughts and prayers.

Wayne is survived by his wife, Rosemary; his children, Corrine Kristoff and Chad Kristoff; his mother, Virginia Kristoff; his sister, Karen McIlroy; his grandchildren Chase Jordan, Sebastian Kristoff, and Haley Kristoff and their mom, Diana Jordan; a nephew Vincent White; a great-niece, Mia White; a great-nephew, Brady White; as well as aunts, uncles, and cousins.

A Celebration of Life gathering will be held at the Vu Café, 14815 E Shea Blvd., Ste. 100, Fountain Hills on Sunday, Dec. 3 from 2 to 5 p.m. In lieu of flowers the family has asked for memorials to be made to the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative (defeatgbm.org) or Mayo Clinic’s Neurology Research (mayoclinic.org/life).

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