6greyhounds Posted July 25, 2008 Share Posted July 25, 2008 PITTSBURGH -- Randy Pausch, a former Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist whose "last lecture" about facing terminal cancer became an international sensation and a best-selling book, died Friday. He was 47. Pausch, who was diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer in September 2006, died at his home in Virginia, said Carnegie Mellon spokeswoman Anne Watzman. "Randy had an enormous and lasting impact on Carnegie Mellon. Carnegie Mellon and the world are better places for having had Randy Pausch in them,” CMU officials said in a statement on Friday. A professor of computer science, human-computer interaction and design, Pausch was known for his flamboyance and showmanship as a teacher and mentor. He also was recognized as a pioneer in virtual-reality research. But it was his popular last lecture at Carnegie Mellon in September that garnered international attention. Millions went online to view the complete or abridged version of the lecture, titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." In it, Pausch celebrated living the life he had always dreamed of instead of concentrating on impending death. In book form, "The Last Lecture," written with Jeffrey Zaslow, leaped to the top of the best-seller lists after its publication in April. The book deal was reported to be worth more than $6 million. Pausch's wife, Jai, put out a statement early Friday thanking "the millions of people who have offered their love, prayers and support." "Randy was so happy and proud that the lecture and book inspired parents to revisit their priorities, particularly their relationships with their children," she said. "The outpouring of cards and e-mails really sustained him." Pausch had dictated the book to Zaslow, a Wall Street Journal writer, by cell phone because he wanted to spend as much time as possible with his three children. "It was the most fun 53 days of my life because it was like a performance. It was like getting 53 extra lectures," Zaslow told The Associated Press on Friday. He recalled that Pausch only became emotional when they worked on the last chapter of the book, because that to him was the "end of the lecture, the book, his life." "Otherwise, he was very strong and funny through the creation of the book," Zaslow said. Pausch had said he was embarrassed and flattered by the popularity of his message. "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 his last lecture, Pausch told a packed auditorium at Carnegie Mellon he had 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. "If I don't seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you," Pausch said. He then joked about his quirky hobby of winning stuffed animals at amusement parks and how his mother introduced him to people to keep him humble: "This is my son, he's a doctor, but not the kind that helps people." The speech 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. "I thought, 'Damn, I finally nailed the venue and they renamed it,"' he said. Pausch also lobbied Congress for more federal funding for pancreatic cancer research and appeared on "Oprah" and other TV shows. In what he called "a truly magical experience," he was even invited to appear as an extra in the new "Star Trek" movie, scheduled for release this year. He had one line of dialogue, got to keep his costume and donated his $217.06 paycheck to charity. Pausch blogged regularly about his medical treatment. On Feb. 15, exactly six months after he was told he had three to six months of healthy living left, Pausch posted a photo of himself to show he was "still alive & healthy." "I rode my bike today; the cumulative effects of the chemotherapy are hurting my stamina some, but I bet I can still run a quarter mile faster than most Americans," he wrote. Pausch often emphasized the need to have fun. "I mean I don't know how to not have fun. I'm dying and I'm having fun. And I'm going to keep having fun every day I have left. Because there's no other way to play it," he said in his Carnegie Mellon lecture. "You just have to decide if you're a Tigger or an Eeyore. I think I'm clear where I stand on the great Tigger/Eeyore debate. Never lose the childlike wonder. It's just too important. It's what drives us," he said. Pausch gave one more lecture after his Carnegie Mellon appearance -- in November at the University of Virginia, where he taught from 1988 to 1997. 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. Pausch and his family moved to Chesapeake, Va., in the fall to be closer to his wife's relatives. He is survived by his wife and their three children, Dylan, Logan and Chloe. 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