Although we all knew he probably couldn't live much longer, Randy Pausch's death on Friday, July 25, 2008, from the complications of pancreative cancer was a shock.
Pausch had last posted on his cancer update page on June 26. He noted that due to poor results from recent chemotherapy, he was considering abandoning further attempts and would look at immunotherapy as an alternative. The ensuing month's silence was a little unnerving for those who checked his site daily for updates.
On July 24, a poster who identified himself as a friend of the Virginia professor wrote that Pausch's health had further declined, that he was no longer able to post, and that he was enrolled in hospice care.
The next morning, the news services announced that Randy Pausch, 47, had just died in his Chesapeake, Virginia home. He leaves behind a young wife and three small children.
Randy Pausch touched millions of us far beyond the "Last Lecture" he delivered at Carnegie Mellon University in September of 2007. He's the guy we actually "knew" even though we had never met him, and his loss is huge.
While writing that you envy someone who knows he's terminally ill is a bit odd, many of us did just that. We envied him that he knew he had a short time to live and was able to squeeze the most out of every hour. We also wistfully noted that unlike so many terminal patients, who have to slave at their 8-to-5 jobs until they literally drop, Randy Pausch was able to spend his remaining time after diagnosis doing what were the most important things in this world to him: spending time with his family, testifying on behalf of finding a cure for pancreatic cancer, donning a pro football jersey for a practice session, and just plain making the world a better place.