Last week, we bid a sudden and tragic farewell to an incredible, one-of-a-kind person. 

To those of us at RAIN lucky enough to have gotten to know, love, and collaborate with him, Jason Herndon was so much more than our trusted head of engineering and a pillar of the voice community. 

He was a devoted father and husband. He was a man so genuine, giving, vulnerable and lovable that to many of us, he felt more like a close friend or a family member than a colleague. 

And while Jason was so near and dear to our hearts, the grief and heartbreak we feel for his immediate family, and his friends outside of work, is immeasurable. 

We wanted to use this moment to share some of our cherished memories of Jason, which will forever be a part of us.   

For someone whose multi-dimensional intelligence and dogged work ethic were off the charts, Jason somehow embodied a steady kindness, patience and humility. Jason’s wry wit and self-deprecating style endeared him to us on a daily basis. Always quick with a ridiculous, light-hearted GIF on an otherwise ho-hum slack channel, or a devilishly clever bit of corporate satire to lighten the mood around a tough project, Jason simply made us smile without fail. He made the glass always seem half full.

Jason had an uncommon drive to learn new things, but also a selfless dedication to teach others. While he was consistently one of the busiest people at our company, he always made the time to thoughtfully explain to us every complex facet of voice technology – how it worked, why it was cool, and what you could do with it. He proactively volunteered his time to prepare Friday “TechTalks” for the company, sessions that were as fun and engaging as they were informative. Like he did with so many things, Jason made our Fridays that much better. 

Jason’s professional output was nothing short of outstanding. Whether he was speaking at industry events, guiding the development of a breakthrough educational voice experience for kids, spinning up a chat-bot solution to help small businesses suffering from COVID, or conceiving and coding imaginative new tools for voice, his energy was infectious and his drive for quality was uncompromising. He left his mark on clients and colleagues alike as a deft collaborator, a bright creative force, a persuasive communicator, and a relentless optimist that whatever the challenge, it was no match for us.  

Jason wasn’t afraid to bring his quirky personality to work. He let his nerd flag fly unabashedly, and we loved him for it (the esoterica of Harry Potter, Star Trek, and so many other fantastical fictions had clearly burrowed deep inside his heart). He also cared deeply about morality, purpose and finding ways for technology to help people in need. He wanted to do things not because they were lucrative, or because they were easy, but because they were hard and because they deserved to be done

In one of our last collective company experiences with him, he indulged a thought experiment about the three things he’d bring to a desert island, in the categories of food, TV and music. His choices encapsulate a lot about who he was. Unpretentious (he brought pepperoni pizza because, “I mean … I have higher tastes but I’m pretty sure that’s the only thing I’ll never grow tired of”). Smart, hilarious and warm-hearted (he brought 30 Rock because “my assumption is I’d need something to lift my spirits”). Deep, complex, and timeless (he brought Bob Dylan).

Jason, perhaps it’s best we leave it to your favorite artist to sum up how we feel about saying goodbye to you. 

Bob Dylan, “If Not For You” (1970)

If not for you
Babe, I couldn’t find the door
Couldn’t even see the floor
I’d be sad and blue
If not for you

If not for you
Babe, I’d lay awake all night
Wait for the mornin’ light
To shine in through
But it would not be new
If not for you

If not for you
My sky would fall
Rain would gather too
Without your love I’d be nowhere at all
I’d be lost if not for you
And you know it’s true

If not for you
My sky would fall
Rain would gather too
Without your love I’d be nowhere at all
Oh! What would I do
If not for you

If not for you
Winter would have no spring
Couldn’t hear the robin sing
I just wouldn’t have a clue
Anyway it wouldn’t ring true
If not for you

We miss you. We love you. You have forever shaped who we are as individuals, and what we are as a team. We know you’ll keep an eye on us, and keep us grounded and honest, as your memory lives on. 

Rest easy, friend. 

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If you’d like to donate to benefit Jason’s family, we encourage you to visit this GoFundMe page.