Jim Gattis was a pioneer in Financial Technology in Arkansas, building Systematics data center operations from small beginnings into a national network of managed facilities. He grew up in Fort Smith where he graduated for high school in 1955 and headed to the Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas. At Fayetteville Jim he played basketball for two years and studied chemical engineering before he switched to business administration. He graduated with two degrees – business administration and industrial management – in 1961 and married Jan Gardner the same year.
In 1960 he began working for IBM and met Walter Smiley during their training. Jim continued with IBM until Walter asked him to come to Systematics as part of the management team. It took Jim a while to make his decision but in 1970 he and Jan moved to Little Rock and started his time at Systematics.
Starting without a job title, Jim’s job evolved into Executive Vice President of Operations and later in his 15 years at Systematics into Executive Vice
President. Systematics grew by adding data centers under facilities management, so operations was a continuing challenge. Each new data center had to be staffed, in part by bank employees who became Systematics employees, in part by transfers and new hires. Operations were mission critical to the banking customers and Jim carried a large load and built a great operations team.
After retirement, Jim was generous with his time. He served as vice chairman of the board of Centers for Youth and Families, treasurer of Baptist Medical Foundation, Chairman of the executive board operating committee of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and president of the Downtown Rotary Club of Little Rock. He also led efforts to improve the Little Rock School District. Jim was also very involved in church activities and passed away while on a mission trip to Brazil. He was inducted posthumously into the Arkansas Academy of Computing in the charter class in 2006.