Goodbye John Purcell

April 20th, 2017 by · 6 Comments

Sad news out of Rochester New York this week. John K. Purcell, longtime CEO and co-founder of Fibertech Networks, has passed away at the age of 73. John was one of the first in the industry to recognize the power of the metro fiber model and to build a business entirely around it. He was also an all-around fantastic guy to have known, and he will be missed.

Fibertech reached out to me back in 2008 within a few months of the launch of Telecom Ramblings to share its story. I didn’t know anything about them at the time, and when I was given a description of their assets and business model I frankly thought their marketing team was, well, exaggerating a bit. (Yeah, marketing people do that to me sometimes, go figure.)  They weren’t of course, not a single bit, and Fibertech did it organically from the ground up.  I soon came to realize that John was, as much as anyone out there, the architect of the modern fiber business in America.

I didn’t actually get to meet John Purcell in person until four years ago when I finally made it to Metro Connect down in Miami. I wish I had taken the time to sit down with him more than I actually managed to since then.  He maintained a low profile outside of the fiber business, unless of course you lived in and around Rochester NY where both he and Fibertech were quite active in the community.

If you knew John, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.


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Categories: Metro fiber

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6 Comments So Far

  • Brady Rafuse says:

    He was a fine, kind and smart man who built a great team and a great business. I was genuinely so sad and shocked to hear of his passing and our thoughts and prayers for his family, friends and all that knew him.

  • Gary Muisus says:

    John was our CEO at Fibertech, we were very fortunate to have him as our leader and our community was blessed to have him a part of it. A real gentleman, professional and classy individual. As a now retired VP, Operations for a Fibertech, I relish the memories.

  • Mike Hurley says:

    Rob – Thanks for writing this piece John Purcell, who the industry and the Rochester community lost much too early. Prior to our 15-yr run at Fibertech, John had over 30 years in telecom and loads of great stories behind him. One of which was Rochester Tel’s ’94 Open Market Plan came together with he and Fibertech founder, Frank Chiaino (the TWC Regional Pres) on opposite sides of the table of what became the blueprint for the ’96 Telecom Act.

    John was proof that you can be highly successful and provide great investor returns while always, always putting people first and taking the high road in every situation….which he did by empowering and trusting his team. John was highly respected by our partners as well as our competitors, which of course many were both and that went both ways. We’ve heard from many around the industry over the past couple of weeks and it’s been a nice reminder of how many talented, hard-working leaders there are in our sector that are good people first.
    We can all learn a lot from paying attention to the example that leaders like JKP set for competition with class. Thanks again.

  • Colby Synesael says:

    I grew up in Rochester (Fairport) and only learned years after I became a telco analyst of the storied history of Rochester Tel and the many accomplished companies/executives that started there. One of course is Fibertech/John and on multiple occasions when I would come home to Rochester we’d meet and he’d share with me his thoughts on the sector. I was very saddened to hear when I was home last week of his passing, so early in retirement with so much more life to live. He was very involved in the Rochester community but he did so quietly without fanfare or seeking attention. A true gentleman. I look up to him then and now. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

  • Bill LaPerch says:

    A few words come to mind when thinking about this world class gentleman. Classy comes first. No matter what the audience John’s class always stood above the rest. Humble. Maybe overly so. He always went out of his way to make others feel more important than himself. He did it in a very disarming manner so you wouldn’t even notice. And finally, successful. Not only at building a great business (which he most certainly did) but also in living a great life that others would do well to emulate.
    We lost a good one. May he Rest In Peace
    Bill LaPerch

  • Keith Wilson says:

    John was a wonderful leader, family man and all around citizen. I got to know John through my time at PAETEC but got to know him much better through our mutual community Boards and work done outside of telecom. John will be missed deeply by all who had the pleasure of spending time with him. His leadership in building a wonderful Company and throughout the community is a testament to him and will live on through those he touched so Deeply.

    Keith Wilson

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