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Personal Computer Developer Among Dead In Delta Crash

August 4, 1985 GMT

MIAMI (AP) _ The man who headed the team that developed IBM’s personal computer was among 14 company employees and their relatives killed in the crash of Delta Air Lines Flight 191 in Dallas, an IBM spokesman said Saturday.

Phillip D. ″Don″ Estridge, and his wife, Mary Ann, died when the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar crashed while attempting to land at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Friday, IBM spokesman John Pope said Saturday from the company’s Boca Raton office.

The plane was en route from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to Los Angeles, with a stop in Dallas. The airline reported that 131 of the 162 people on board the plane died. A motorist on the ground was also killed.

Among the dead were six IBM employees, six relatives of employees and two college interns. One IBM employee survived the crash, Pope said.

Estridge and his wife were apparently flying to Dallas on vacation, Pope said, but this could not be immediately confirmed.

″We know he has family in Texas,″ Pope said, ″but beyond that, I have no knowledge of his itinerary.″

Estridge joined IBM in 1959 as a junior engineer in Kingstown, N.Y. and held various positions until July 1981, when he was appointed director of entry systems business in Boca Raton. It was that group which developed the IBM personal computer and began marketing it in August 1981.

While IBM will not release sales figures, the PC has become the industry leader in personal computer use.

Estridge was named an IBM vice president in 1984 and assumed his last position as vice president of manufacturing in March.

He worked out of the company’s headquarters in Armonk, N.Y., but it was believed he and his wife maintained a residence in the Boca Raton area, Pope said.

Four other IBM employees killed in the crash were employed in the company’s Los Angeles office. They had been in Boca Raton on business, Pope said, and were returning home. He identified them as marketing representatives Deborah Wright, Kim Neel, Sabrina Polk and marketing manager Milt Shoecraft.

Moses Barnes, an IBM staff engineer in Boca Raton, was killed, along with his wife, Joanne, and daughter, Kara.

Also killed in the crash were two college students who were working for the summer at the Boca Raton plant: Darlene Brown, of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana; and Zohniffer Gilliard, of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. They were traveling to Dallas to attend the convention of the sorority Delta Sigma Theta, the nation’s largest black women’s organization.

Vicki C. Shearer, wife of IBM Boca Raton employee, Robert D. Shearer, died on the flight, as did Fort Lauderdale residents Evan Thompson, son of Roy Thompson, also a Boca Raton employee, and Julie Zarnt, daughter of Dennis Zarnt, an IBM employee in Mont Vale, N.J.

Freeman Gregory, an employee in Boca Raton, survived the crash.

IBM has contacted the families of the deceased, Pope said, declining to elaborate.

″We’re doing everything we can to help the families through this tragedy,″ IBM president and chief executive officer John F. Akers said in a prepared statement.