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.
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."
In April, his book was published and leaped to the top of the nonfiction best-seller lists, where it remained this week. Zaslow said Friday that Pausch was "strong and funny" during their collaboration. 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.
Born in 1960, Pausch received his bachelor's degree in computer science from Brown University and his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon.
He co-founded Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center, a master's program for bringing artists and engineers together. The university named a footbridge in his honor. He also created an animation-based teaching program for high school and college students to have fun while learning computer programming.
In February, the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences in California announced the creation of the Dr. Randy Pausch Scholarship Fund for university students who pursue careers in game design, development and production.
He 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."