Ray John Noorda was born on June 19, 1924 in Ogden, Utah to Dutch immigrants. Ray was raised during the Great Depression. From that experience, he learned the value of industry, integrity, and hard work. As a young man, he took many jobs, including cherry picking and herding sheep. He graduated from Ogden High School, studied at Weber State University and graduated from the University of Utah in engineering.
One night before graduating from college, Ray has a life-changing experience: he had a blind date with a beautiful, charming young lady with high standards named Tye Taylor. Though Tye had resisted going on the date, they hit it off exceptionally well. In fact, they hit it off so well that they managed to squeeze in four dates in four days before Ray left for the East Coast to begin his work with General Electric as an electrical engineer. The young couple corresponded by mail and telephone. After a year, Ray was able to return to Utah for a brief visit. Five days later they were married. It was a love affair that lasted a lifetime.
In time, the couple had five children and lived in seven different areas of the United States. In 1983, they returned to Utah where Ray took over the leadership of a small, fledgling computer company named Novell. At the time, the company only had seventeen employees. By the time Ray retired in 1995, it had grown to over 12,000 employees and had become an international leader in the computer networking industry. After retiring in 1995, Ray devoted his energies to the development of the Canopy Group, an early-stage center capital firm that, by 2006, had invested in over 100 companies. It also gave generously and quietly to numerous institutions and the community.
Ray Noorda died on October 9, 2006 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's disease. He left behind his devoted wife, four children, and a broad network of family, friends, and associates who fondly remember him, in innovative leadership, his generosity, his human touch, and his many accomplishments. According to former Utah Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., "Ray was one of the innovators of the Utah Miracle. He launched what would become Utah's technology sector. He has left behind a monumental legacy and we are all in his debt."
Tye Noorda, formerly Lewena "Tye" Taylor, was bored on December 26, 1923 in Freedom, Utah. Aspiring to be an actress, her early training was before an appreciative audience of about thirty or forty who would gather around her in a semi-circle while she performed. The audience enjoyed watching and listening to her dialogues and soliloquies so long as she kept throwing them wheat – Tye loved those chickens! While Tye was unable to perform in any school plays or participate in after-school dramatic activities, she continued to develop her talents. She learned how to play the piano in her home and found great pleasure in accompanying her musical family in community performances. She also dreamed of college and did all she could to earn enough money so she could realize that dream.
After graduating form High School, Tye moved to Salt Lake City where she gained employment as a secretary. In time, she accumulated $550, enough to pay for one year of college. As she prepared to enter the University of Utah, she learned that her father could no longer do all the physical work on the farm. He could, however, get a job selling and delivering products if he had a car. Tye learned that there was a used car he could buy for $550. After considering her family's situation and a restless night's sleep, Tye sent a $550 check to her father and decided to wait another year to go to college. Given the events that followed, she later decided that her $550 had been "the best investment I ever made."
Despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, she was able to participate and excel in a regional speech festival sponsored by the LDS Church. This allowed her to meet and work with highly influential and charitable people in the community. One was Maude May Babcock, the "first lady of theatre" in Utah. After hearing Tye's performance, she complemented her and encouraged her to pursue a college education. When told that she didn't have the resources, Maude invited Tye to live with her so she could attend the University that year. Tye also auditioned for two plays at the Salt Lake Theatre. In the first play she played a minor character with four lines and in the second, she preformed the lead. Tye also too modeling classes from Zaz Vorka and later modeled in Salt Lake City and New York City before eventually returning to Utah.
It was then that she met Ray. After their marriage, Ray always encouraged Tye to wrote songs, to perform in community theatre, to write and direct road shows, to direct speech festivals and to help young people as they prepare to deliver speeches and perform on stage. Over the years, Tye has functioned on many advisory boards, helped direct the affairs of their foundations, raised a wonderful family, served in her church, and done all she could do to respond to the needs of others – individually and collectively in the community.
Through it all, Tye has remained remarkably humble. One of her greatest joys has been to see the lives of young people transformed because of their successful participation in speech-based activated and dramatic events. She has been thrilled as she's witnessed young people empowered by these experiences and seen how their lives have been changed for the good. Her driving purpose has always been to do things that would be "beneficial to the lives of others." The establishment of the Noorda Regional Theatre Center for Children and Youth is just one of the many gifts she and her family continue to offer the state, the region, and the people of Utah. We are grateful for her dream and gift and look forward to sharing it with you.