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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

Phil Kaufman: At the heart of the matter

September 27th, 2012 by Peggy Aycinena

If you knew Phil Kaufman, you would have known how old he was when he died. Brief details of his life can be found through searching online: His last post was CEO of Quickturn, he died while on a business trip to Japan in July 1992, and the EDA Consortium established the Kaufman Award in his honor the following year.

This information is all readily available, but Phil Kaufman’s age at the time of his death is not so easily found. And why would that information be important?

By all reports, Phil Kaufman died of a heart attack, yet clearly he was fully engaged in his career at the time, which indicates his sudden death came as a shock to his family and colleagues. Did he know he had a problem? Did he have a history of cardiac disease? Was he being tracked by a doctor? Was the stress of the job just too much for someone whose health was compromised? I didn’t know Phil Kaufman, so I don’t know the answers to any of these questions.

This past summer, 20 years after Phil Kaufman’s death, my own family endured the loss of a good friend who died suddenly of a heart attack. He was only 62, fully engaged in his career, and rabidly athletic. He collapsed and died during a weekend sports tournament, having never been diagnosed with heart disease. It’s too late to ask him now, but did he know he had a problem? Was he overlooking tell-tale symptoms of cardiac disease? Could his death have been avoided?

My intention for this blog was to recap the facts of Phil Kaufman’s life here in the season when the annual EDAC/CEDA Award is presented in his honor. Instead, the fact that Phil Kaufman collapsed and died of a heart attack while on a business trip jumped out of the story. It’s hard not to look at that fact and wonder again about this summer’s sudden death within our own family circle.

There can be many causes for a heart attack, but some of them can be predicated and/or avoided. Even people who seem well may be harboring symptoms that could be used to develop a rational plan of treatment.

Nobody wants to be a patient and nobody wants to be a prisoner to a health condition, but if you think you might have a problem with your heart, you have two choices: Ignore it, or go see a doctor and find out what’s going on.

You may risk thinking of yourself as a hypochondriac, but you may also save your own life and prevent the shock and grief that comes to any family when someone in the prime of life is suddenly taken away. Don’t seek a diagnosis for yourself. Do it for the people who need you – your family, your friends, and your business colleagues who are counting on you.

Then plan on coming to the Phil Kaufman Award dinner in November in Silicon Valley and celebrate the fact that you’re able to attend. Celebrate that you’re able to enjoy this marvelous life you’ve been gifted with.


References …

* Keith Lobo Named Chief Executive Officer of Quickturn Systems

* Hermann K. Gummel: 1994 Phil Kaufman Award Honoree

2012 Nominations for EDA Industry’s Annual Phil Kaufman Award


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