The Associated Press reports:
Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist whose "last lecture" about facing terminal cancer became an Internet sensation and a best-selling book, died Friday. He was 47.I first became aware of Pausch when a close friend, Jan Welsh, was so courageously battling pancreatic cancer. Much like Pausch, Jan chose to fully live her life until the very end. I only hope I can have that same courage when needed.
Pausch died at his home in Chesapeake, Va., said Jeffrey Zaslow, a Wall Street Journal writer who co-wrote Pausch's book. Pausch and his family had moved there last fall to be closer to his wife's relatives.
Pausch was diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer in September 2006. His popular last lecture at Carnegie Mellon in September 2007 garnered international attention and was viewed by millions on the Internet.
In it, Pausch celebrated living the life he had always dreamed of instead of concentrating on impending death.
"The lecture was for my kids, but if others are finding value in it, that is wonderful," Pausch wrote on his Web site. "But rest assured; I'm hardly unique."
The book "The Last Lecture" leaped to the top of the nonfiction best-seller lists after its publication in April and remains there this week. The book deal was reported to be worth more than $6 million.
Pausch said he dictated the book to Zaslow by cell phone, and Zaslow recalled Friday that he was "strong and funny" during their collaboration.
"It was the most fun 53 days of my life because it was like a performance," Zaslow told The Associated Press. "It was like getting 53 extra lectures." He recalled that Pausch became emotional when they worked on the last chapter, though, because that to him was the "end of the lecture, the book, his life."
At Carnegie Mellon, Pausch was a professor of computer science, human-computer interaction and design, and was recognized as a pioneer of virtual reality research. On campus, he became known for his flamboyance and showmanship as a teacher and mentor.
The speech last fall was part of a series Carnegie Mellon called "The Last Lecture," where professors were asked to think about what matters to them most and give a hypothetical final talk. The name of the lecture series was changed to "Journeys" before Pausch spoke, something he joked about in his lecture.
"I thought, damn, I finally nailed the venue and they renamed it," he said.
I miss my friend Jan, as I'm sure the Pausch family will miss their beloved husband, father, brother and son. He touched a lot of people, and reminded many of us what is truly important in life.