Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor whose final lecture inspired millions, has died of pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Pausch, who turned the lecture into a book, said that no one would have been interested in his words of wisdom were he not a man in his 40s with a terminal illness, leaving behind a wife and three young children.
Last fall, Dr. Pausch delivered the lecture at CMU, which still posts it on its Web site. The lecture has attracted more than six million viewers.
In the year preceding the lecture, he had gone through rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, but refused to give in to morbidity or self-pity. Instead of focusing on the cancer, he talked about how to fulfill childhood dreams and the lessons he learned on his life's journey.
In his 10 years at CMU, he helped found the Entertainment Technology Center, established an annual virtual reality contest and helped start the Alice program, an animation-based curriculum for teaching high school and college students.
After the lecture, he moved to Chesapeake, Va., to spend his remaining time with his wife, children and family.
In May, Dr. Pausch spoke at the Carnegie Mellon University commencement. He said a friend recently told him he was "beating the [Grim] Reaper" because it's now been nine months since his doctor told him he would die in six.
"But we don't beat the Reaper by living longer. We beat the Reaper by living well," said Dr. Pausch, who urged the graduates to find and pursue their passion. He put an exclamation point at the end of his remarks by kissing his wife, Jai, and carrying her off stage.
Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from July 25 to Aug. 25, 2008