Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

Velma Dora Veneziano (Taylor) | obituaries

July 10, 1921 – October 29, 2021

Velma Dora Veneziano (Taylor), 100 year-old Evanston, Illinois resident, passed away on October 29, 2021. Graveside services will be held Friday, July 8th at 10:00 am in Willow Grove Cemetery in Buffalo, Wyoming with Pastor William Dunlap officiating. Online condolences may be left at www.harnessfuneralhome.com

Velma was born on July 10, 1921 in Johnson County, Wyoming to pioneers, Edwin and Dora Taylor. Velma was raised in the wilds of Wyoming, at the foot of the Big Horn mountains, miles from their nearest neighbor. It was there she developed her love for the mountains and the wide open spaces that she never outgrew. In 1928 the family moved from an oil camp to a ranch in Johnson County, WY. At that time there was no electricity and no irrigation on the property. They had to depend on rainwater for their crops and livestock. Life must certainly have been difficult, but all family members worked hard to survive.

As a child, Velma rose early, fed and saddled the horse, and rode 5 miles to a one-room schoolhouse with her younger sister, Helena. Always highly motivated to study and learn, she graduated from Sheridan High School in 1939 with the highest GPA of her classmates. She won a scholarship to the University of Wyoming where she majored in History, earning her BA Degree with honors in 1943. She was elected to Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society at the University of Wyoming in May of 1943. She was also a member of the Alpha Mu Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi.

In 1946 Velma married Philip Veneziano in Laramie, Wyoming. In 1949 they were blessed with their first daughter Jan Ellen. The family then moved to Austin, Texas where she worked as the director of a settlement house for underprivileged children. In 1954 they had their second child, Valerie Kay. They were ready to put down roots in Austin when Philip was offered a research assistant position at Northwestern University, so the family moved to Evanston, Illinois. Velma, always breaking new trails, started a freelance secretarial service to help support the family.

In 1958 Velma was first introduced to computers, systems analysis and design, when she began working for Systems Research Associates. SRA published materials for schools and did educational testing. Hired as a “girl Friday” she worked for a man who was developing a means of automating the collection and processing of standardized test scores. Velma had no formal training in computer science, but there were few people at that time interested in learning about computers. So she took on the challenge and that position played a pivotal role in her life, professionally and personally.

She then went to work for the Chicago Board of Education where she helped automate student records for the public schools. In the mid 60’s, creating a computer system that stored a complete school history for over ½ million students was no small task. She worked there for 7 years, until the corruption within the school system became too great and she decided to move on.

In 1967 Velma was hired by Northwestern University Library as their systems analyst. There she is recognized for being a pioneer of library automation and is credited with being a primary contributor to the design and implementation of the Northwestern Online Total Integrated System (NOTIS). It was the first online system for library catalog and circulation control. NOTIS first became operational in 1970, and by 1988 it was in use at over 100 major libraries around the world. For her contributions to NOTIS she received the LITA/Gaylord Award for Achievement in Library and Information Technology in 1985. She was one of the first librarians to participate in the China-US Scientific Exchange and was part of a team that led a 5-week library automation seminar at the Harbin Institute of Technology.

After retiring in 1991, she was granted the honorary status of Librarian Emeritus and continued to volunteer at the university library. Velma was passionate about her profession and continued to learn and challenge herself in unconventional ways. She was deeply interested in the way language could be organized to benefit people. At 90 years she worked tirelessly on a computer database that provided individuals a simplified way to access health-related information. When it came to computer systems design, her motto was “Keep it Simple and Elegant”.

In addition to being passionate about her family and her career she enjoyed gourmet cooking, jogging, hiking, camping, canoeing, racquetball, yoga, and traveling. All were interests she loved to share with her husband, family and friends. Velma and Philip traveled to every continent and 47 different countries during their lifetime. Their travels were always “off the beaten path” and she had many adventures, as well as some mishaps along the way. It was part of the traveling experience that she fully enjoyed and embraced.

Velma lived in Wilmette, Illinois until the passing of her husband, Dr. Philip Veneziano, in July of 2006. They were married and best friends for 60 years. After Philip’s passing, Velma moved to Three Crowns Park Retirement Community in Evanston, Illinois where she remained until her death.

She is survived by her daughter, Valerie Veneziano, grandson Sam Tilsen, his wife Kimberly, and 2 great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Philip, and daughter Jan Tilsen.

Comments are closed.