Daines remembered as high-tech pioneer with first-class heart
By Craig Howard
For the Central Valley School District, it was a game-changing gift. For Bernard Daines, it was just another opportunity to make a difference.
Mike Pearson remembers the day in 2002 when Daines, a graduate of Central Valley High School, informed CVSD that he would be donating $1 million toward technology upgrades. The extraordinary contribution would mean the best in high-tech support for students on the new campuses of Central Valley and University high schools.
"It was pretty amazing," said Pearson, who was working as director of Secondary Education for CVSD at the time and would go on to serve as superintendent. "Bernard was a very nice guy, a very humble guy. He said he wanted to say ‘thank you' to the district."
Pearson was one of many to remember the generosity, wisdom and character of the technology pioneer last month after Daines passed away on April 4 at Kootenai Medical Center. He would have celebrated his 70th birthday on April 12. Daines had suffered from the effects of diabetes in recent years and was receiving regular dialysis treatments.
Recognized as a computer innovator on the international stage, Daines founded companies like Worldwide Packets, Packet Engines and Linus Networx. He was also co-founder of Grand Junction Networks that was later sold to Cisco Systems. Daines was one of the earliest developers of Ethernet technology and had the distinction of being featured by Newsweek magazine as one of 100 people to watch in the 21st century's opening decade.
Among his honors, Daines was nominated by the administration of President George W. Bush to serve on the Information Technology Committee and was a sought-after presenter on network technologies at high-profile conferences and university-hosted lectures.
Eldonna Shaw, CEO of the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, recalls Daines speaking at a chamber gathering years ago and making a lasting impression.
"He was certainly a wonderful gentleman," Shaw said. "He was so respected by the community, his peers and the computer industry. It was so nice to know that we had someone from here who was a leader in his field."
Despite the unique list of achievements and accolades, Daines is remembered as an unpretentious life-long learner who put family, faith and community first. He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and held many leadership callings throughout his life. After Liberty Lake incorporation passed in 2000, Daines provided the fledgling city with a rent-free site at the Liberty Lake Portal for its transitional headquarters.
"Bernard was there to support the city when we were just starting up," said Mayor Steve Peterson. "He always looked for ways to have a positive impact."
The Portal building on Mission Avenue had become the latest in a long list of successful projects for Daines. Now with 50 tenants, the site has lived up to its own marketing slogan of being "the region's premier office building in the heart of the business and technology hub." He was also a founder of TierPoint, a Liberty Lake-based data center that was later acquired by Cequel Data Centers.
In an interview with The Splash about the Portal last year, Daines said he relished the building being in Liberty Lake "because if there's a high-tech area in Spokane County, this is it." Daines and his wife, Marsha, lived in a far-from-grandiose home in the Rocky Hill neighborhood of Liberty Lake. The couple raised six children.
Daines' son, Steven, is property manager at the Liberty Lake Portal. He says his dad "leaves a legacy of always believing in yourself."
"He wanted to help people achieve their own goals," Steven Daines said. "He taught me the value of listening and listening. Just ask a question and let people talk - it's amazing what you can learn."
Daines was born in Prince Edward Island, Canada, in 1944, the oldest of eight children. His family moved to Moses Lake when he was a boy and later settled in Spokane Valley in hopes of remedying his chronic asthma. He attended Greenacres Junior High and CVHS.
At Central Valley, Daines sold milk at lunch, wrote for the school newspaper and catapulted a friend to ASB president by broadcasting creative radio commercials leading up to the vote. At a high school science fair, Daines distanced himself from the competition by introducing a language-translation computer.
Daines also participated in theater at CV and earned the lead role in a play his senior year. The title of the production was fitting in light of his future efforts as a magnanimous supporter of charitable causes - "You Can't Take it With You." A full schedule of honors classes nearly kept Daines from earning his high school diploma since he had trouble finding the time to procure the required credits in state history. He would graduate but skip the ceremony. "I don't like ceremonies," he told friends.
Daines went on to attend Brigham Young University, where he began as an engineering major but switched to computers. He would become the first graduate of BYU's computer science program in 1969. After college, Daines followed the early technology migration to California's Silicon Valley, working as a consultant and network engineer.
From six-digit donations to covering the bill for ensuing customers at a drive-thru, Daines was known for sharing his wealth, not flaunting it. Basic flannel shirts were his trademark.
"He never talked about work successes or money or accomplishments with his children," said daughter Randi (Daines) Brunt. "He was not boastful or proud. We never knew how much money he made or anything like that. I am still finding out all the ways he helped people, whether financially, or through a job or an opportunity, or just a time when he showed up. He was a person of integrity - no hypocrisy, no false appearances."
Daines is survived by his wife, Marsha, children Kevin, Staci, Randi, Jarom, Tyler and Steven and 23 grandchildren.