- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 26, 2008

PITTSBURGH | 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.

Mr. Pausch died at his home in Chesapeake, Va., said Jeffrey Zaslow, a Wall Street Journal writer who co-wrote Mr. Pausch’s book. Mr. Pausch and his family had moved there last fall to be closer to his wife’s relatives.

Mr. 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, Mr. 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,” he 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.

Mr. Pausch said he dictated the book to Mr. Zaslow by cell phone, and Mr. 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,” Mr. Zaslow said. “It was like getting 53 extra lectures.”

He recalled that Mr. Pausch became emotional when they worked on the last chapter because that to him was the “end of the lecture, the book, his life.”

At Carnegie Mellon, Mr. 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 Mr. Pausch spoke, something he joked about in his lecture.

“I thought, damn, I finally nailed the venue and they renamed it,” he said.

He told the packed auditorium he fulfilled almost all his childhood dreams - being in zero gravity, writing an article in the World Book Encyclopedia and working with the Walt Disney Co.

The one that eluded him? Playing in the National Football League.

Mr. Pausch is survived by his wife, Jai, and their three children, Dylan, Logan and Chloe; his mother, Virginia Pausch, of Columbia, Md.; and a sister, Tamara Mason, of Lynchburg, Va.

In a statement Friday, his wife thanked those who sent messages of support and said her husband was proud that his lecture and book “inspired parents to revisit their priorities, particularly their relationships with their children.”

Associated Press writer Ramesh Santanam contributed to this article.

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