James E. Coraza, 86, of Gloucester, died suddenly on October 26, 2022. He was born in Newton, NJ on December 27, 1935. Due to his father’s work, he and his sister grew up in 13 different states in the first 13 years of his life, before finally settling in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He was predeceased by his parents Alfred J. and Alice (Reynolds) Coraza, and his sister Mary Catherine.
Jim graduated from Allentown Central Catholic high school, and went on to get his BS and MS in electrical engineering from Lehigh University, and a MBA from Syracuse.
He also did significant postgraduate work in engineering at the University of Michigan. Jim started his career at General Dynamics but was quickly persuaded by one of his favorite professors and friend John Karakash to go to IBM.
At IBM, he spent the majority of his time in executive development and senior management positions. He managed the development of a wide range of products utilizing leading edge technologies that included analog/digital telephony and data products, CMOS semiconductors-based microprocessor and commercial computing systems. When Jim was appointed executive responsible for IBM’s midrange computer systems there were five computer product lines and eight software operating systems with 1200 employees in seven cities around the world.
In the 1980s, he was requested to assume responsibility for the development, marketing, financial and business aspects of the two most successful mid-range computers in the industry at the time- S/36 and S/38. They began to lag in revenue and profit. Six months after arriving at the development site in Rochester, Minnesota Jim took a proposal to IBM Senior Executives to redirect further investment to a new computer system. He was named General Manager for this program managing the development of eight hardware models and delivery of 6 million lines of software in an incredibly short two years. The result was the AS/400, arguably the most successful mid-range computing system ever introduced in terms of units installed, revenue and profitability. This program was chronicled in the book The Silver Lake Project. After the receipt of the Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award, his focus was on improving the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of the worldwide development and manufacturing organizations. His final role as Vice President and General Manager for the mid-range printer line. Due to the management system included in his analysis there was a significant improvement in profit and cash flow. This improvement in financial results reversed IBM’s decision to spin off the division.
In 1994, he left IBM, formed Business Analysis and Consulting Inc. He consulted to a variety of established companies like manufacturing, healthcare, and environmental startups. He successfully advised several turnaround situations. He was also retained by the senior vice president of IBM’s technology group who was responsible for several key divisions that while generating revenue were not very profitable. Jim devised and wrote the strategy for IBM that CEO Gerstner implemented that proved vital to the turnaround of IBM.
In addition to having a rewarding career, he enjoyed playing in bridge tournaments, skiing, sailing, golfing with his buddies, flying small aircraft, reading, and traveling and appreciating various cultures. Though he had seen the most beautiful cathedrals and churches in the world he would say, “there is no more spiritual and inspiring experience, and manifestation of the perfection of God as sitting on the deck looking at the ocean.” He also had an abiding interest in learning and growing not only for himself but encouraged others to wonder and pursue knowledge. Throughout his life his passion was to love and live life. To execute that philosophy, he would determine and implement his plan. In addition, he thrived on helping and encouraging anyone he encountered to do the same. His selflessness was abounding.
While Jim had a rich and full life, he had no greater joy than his three daughters Lynn Coraza, Patricia Coraza and Susan DeCicco all of whom live in New York, and his four grandchildren. In 1998, he met the love of his life, Cecilia, and they went on an adventure together, of joy, respect, intellectual curiosity, appreciation and unconditional love.
He will be profoundly missed by his family and friends.
A memorial mass and celebration of Jim’s life was held in Saint Ann’s Church, 74 Pleasant St., Gloucester, MA, on Wednesday, November 2, 2022.
In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy maybe be made to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation (t2t.org) 2361 Hyman Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10306.
Arrangements are by the Greely Funeral Home, 212 Washington St., Gloucester MA. Online condolences may be given at: www.greelyfuneralhome.com.