Robert Lionel Greenspun
November 2, 1946 – July 2, 2018
Robert Greenspun Environmental Protection Agency Senior Programmer
On Monday July 2, 2018, Robert Greenspun of Alexandria Virginia, beloved brother of Mark Greenspun and son of Ruth and Hyman Greenspun, died at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. Born and raised in Washington, DC, Robert attended Cornell University. His interests were eclectic – 19 time JFK 50 mile marathon runner, private pilot, Hebrew scholar, chess player, teacher.
He began working at EPA in 1971, just a year after the agency was formed, and completed 47 years of service. As a senior programmer with EPA, he was considered the father of integrated data.
After the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, EPA had no way to produce corporate environmental laws across its many separated data systems. Robert was chosen to be the lead developer to build a new integrated data system that would bridge all of EPA’s clean air, clean water and hazardous waste data systems. That effort resulted in the Integrated Data for Enforcement Analysis (IDEA) database – first launched in 1990. He received a Gold Medal, the Agency’s top honor, for creating the system from scratch in twelve months. As part of EPA’s Reinventing Government initiative in 1996, Robert was charged with developing a new public version of IDEA for release on the Internet, which resulted in EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) data system. In 2011, that system was recognized by the White House as the “model for transparency” in the Federal government.
He was known as a dedicated public servant that understood the policy and technical parts of EPA’s work, but had a unique gift in developing computer systems related to extremely complex subject matter. A dedicated athlete, he often jogged to work from Alexandria to DC to support his training for ultra-marathons. He will be missed.
A private funeral will be held graveside at King David Memorial Gardens in Virginia. A memorial service for family and friends will be held on a date to be determined. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Suburban Hospital Foundation, citing Suburban Hospital Oncology whose kindnesses can never be repaid.
Robert Lionel Greenspun
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July 7, 2018
I knew Robert Greenspun for only a few years in the mid-1960s, but he made an impression on me that has lasted a lifetime. He was academically brilliant, so I am not surprised to learn of his ingenious and invaluable contributions to the government and nation. But he was also endowed with unusual kindness, generosity and wit. His interests were eclectic even back then -- ranging from classics to classical music and from science to science fiction. He seemed to have no athletic interest or ability in those days, but I should not be amazed by his metamorphosis into a marathon man; he had the aura of someone who could succeed at anything. I know that he will be sorely missed by his friends, family and colleagues, and I send my heartfelt condolences to all.