Chemist Antoine Lavoisier once said, “In nature nothing is created, nothing is lost, everything changes.” Evanston resident Irfan “Irv” Badr certainly lived by this maxim.
A software engineer, systems developer, adjunct professor, engaged citizen, beloved mentor to many, husband and father of one, devoted son and brother, Mr. Badr succumbed on June 14 to stage 4 glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer. He spent his final days at JourneyCare hospice in Glenview after being treated for most of the spring at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, for what doctors initially thought was a parasitic infection. He was 54.
For the past 12 years, Mr. Badr had worked for IBM in Chicago, most recently as a senior Industry Solution Architect in IBM’s Watson IoT (Internet of Things) division, where he was a key architect in the design and development of cutting-edge IoT solutions using IBM’s Watson technology for customers across North America. Irv was an influential thought leader both inside of IBM and with the extended technical community where he chaired several architectural standards committees as well as stewarded industry adoption of software engineering best practices through his leadership with the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) and his academic affiliations.
Upon joining IBM, Irv served as a Worldwide Go-To-Market Manager for IBM’s Continuous Engineering portfolio having previously working for leading companies such as Telelogic and TimeSys. Over his career, he developed innovative, mission-critical architectural designs and solutions in areas spanning telecommunications, medical devices, automotive systems, energy and mining, aerospace systems and industrial robotics.
Mr. Badr taught courses that he developed himself in systems development, software engineering and interface hardware as an adjunct in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University in Chicago. He also served as an adjunct at both Loyola and National-Louis universities in Chicago, and he wrote more than 50 papers on real-time and embedded systems with a focus on model-driven architecture.
Born in Pakistan, Mr. Badr spent most of his childhood in Iran before returning to Karachi, Pakistan, for high school. He emigrated to the United States in 1982 to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and physiology in 1986. He later obtained a technical MBA in engineering management from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, in 1997.
In his later years, Mr. Badr was known in the Evanston community for his involvement in the Unitarian Church of Evanston, where he frequently led “Cracker Barrel” discussions about political and theological issues of the day, and he served as an informal resident expert in the Islamic faith, in which he was raised. He also served as a volunteer for the presidential campaigns of Senator John Kerry and then-Senator and eventual President Barack Obama.
His younger brother Hassan says that he and his family were very close growing up. Mr. Badr enjoyed sports, music, debating topics of the day, bicycling, skateboarding, going to movies and eating out. He was an excellent, fast-paced student and often served as a mentor to his younger siblings. He had a wide group of friends and was well-liked by everybody. His parents and siblings regarded him as the perfect son and brother.
Similarly, Mr. Badr’s colleagues at IBM describe him as a valued colleague, exemplary professional and “people person” who mentored and taught his co-workers and clients, with a professorial approach and caring demeanor, always willing to help on a moment’s notice.
At the Unitarian Church of Evanston, he was a highly regarded presenter on a wide range of topics for the Cracker Barrel. In addition, said Larry Jordan, who administers the forum, “Irv was the embodiment of two significant human values; first, that fact and context are essential elements in the quest for rationality; and second, his ability to disagree without becoming disagreeable.”
Mr. Badr was a responsive, caring, loving father to 17-year-old Aden, who will be a senior at Evanston Township High School this fall, and husband to Barbara Bonert, whom he married in 1999.
In a Facebook post the night Mr. Badr passed away, Aden wrote, in part, “At only 54, my dad had accomplished so much: started a family, mastered his rank, pulled off a handlebar mustache, and built his dream house for his family. … In his last weeks, he was laughing and eating, calling his brothers names, and kissing my mom and I. …. I will always remember everything my dad did for me as well as what he wanted. His mentorship is still actively guiding me even now, and I’m so grateful he could have given it to begin with.”
Barbara Bonert memorialized her husband by saying, “Irv’s plans for a life with Aden and me came to a screeching halt when a glioblastoma claimed his life at only 54 yrs. old. A special man who NEVER said NO to anyone. Irv was a brilliant, talented, dedicated human being who made the world a better place for countless family, friends, community, and, the world. Irv will never be forgotten, will always be loved, and will always have a place in the hearts of those who appreciated him and all his goodness.”
In addition to Aden and Barbara, Mr. Badr is survived by his parents, Alia and Doja; his sister, Nomana; four brothers, Rizwan, Faizan, Rehan and Hassan; and 10 nieces and nephews.
A Celebrate of Life Mass for Irv Badr will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 28, at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Avenue, Evanston.