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Thanks for posting that explanation from RAS Russ, I was unaware of any of that.
After all these decades, I finally find out why SPI died.
I feel like a colossal dork about this, but the encounter I described in the OP above (now that I have seen pics of all the SPI luminaries side by side) was with Brad Hessel, not RAS. My 12-14 year old mind had decided back then, based on how people got introduced in the SPI seminar they held, that the face I saw was Redmond, and I never thought twice about it. He was certainly in the room, but the guy I saw earlier was not him. Sorry :-(