PITTSBURGH - In a recent e-mail exchange with his friend and co-author, Jeffrey Zaslow, Randy Pausch said he still was amazed at how he had been transformed from boyish computer science professor to a "worldwide media-based inspirer."
Such fame for Mr. Pausch, who died yesterday at age 47, began with his final lecture in September at Carnegie Mellon University on how to live a grateful, fulfilling life. It has now been viewed more than 10 million times on the Internet. A follow-up book with Mr. Zaslow has 2.8 million copies in print, in 30 languages.
Mr. Pausch died at his home in Chesapeake, Va. from the pancreatic cancer he had been fighting for nearly two years.
Steve Seabolt, a vice president at video game maker Electronic Arts and one of Mr. Pausch's best friends, was with him when he died about 4 a.m.
Mr. Pausch remained lucid until near the end, Mr. Seabolt said, and had even made a couple trips up and down the stairs of his home the day before he died, although "his energy was minimal."
After his Sept. 18 lecture, Mr. Pausch had taken chemo-therapy to extend his life, but had stopped that treatment in the last few weeks. Even so, he and his wife, Jai, still were considering an experimental cancer vaccine treatment until he became very ill in recent days, Mr. Seabolt said.
Besides his wife, Mr. Pausch leaves his mother, Virginia, of Columbia, Md.; a sister, Tamara Mason, of Lynchburg, Va., and his three children - Dylan, 7; Logan, 3; and Chloe, 2.
It is to the children that he dedicated his lecture and the book, and it is for them that he created videos and other mementos to help them recall him years from now.
In the lecture and book and his appearances on television programs such as The Oprah Winfrey Show and ABC's Primetime he earned the admiration of millions with his focus on pursuing childhood dreams, learning how to be humble, working hard, and seeing brick walls as challenges rather than obstacles.
When Mr. Pausch stepped into McConomy Auditorium at Carnegie Mellon in September, he had been fighting pancreatic cancer - the deadliest of all malignancies - for nearly a year, with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
The initial round of intensive therapy put him into remission, but just as he began feeling healthy again in the summer of 2007, doctors found several new tumors in his liver and spleen. "The doctors say it is one of the most aggressive recurrences they have ever seen," he reported in his online diary.
He told the audience at Carnegie Mellon that his doctors had given him about five more months to live, but that he wasn't going to talk about his cancer or his family.
Instead, he would concentrate on the valuable lessons he had learned during his life and the joy he had experienced.
"If I don't seem as morose or depressed as I should be - sorry to disappoint you," he said, and then wowed the crowd by dropping to the floor and doing several push-ups to show how strong he felt.
A dynamic, well-liked computer science professor, Mr. Pausch was a pioneer in the field of virtual reality, in which people can experience alternative worlds, often by donning headsets that immerse them in a video environment.
He helped found the university's Entertainment Technology Center, often cited as the nation's leading academic training center for video game designers, and was the guiding force behind Alice, a curriculum that teaches computer programming to students through animated storytelling.
After graduating with a computer science degree from Brown University in 1982, he went on to get his PhD at Carnegie Mellon in 1988, and then taught at the University of Virginia before joining Carnegie Mellon's faculty in 1997.
As Mr. Pausch's reputation following the September lecture spread through the Web and his book, thousands of people
e-mailed him with expressions of gratitude.
High school students memorized his lecture and performed it in front of audiences. Scores of people set up Web sites dedicated to him.
Mr. Pausch's family plans private funeral services in Virginia; Carnegie Mellon said it would schedule a memorial service at a date to be announced later.
The family suggests tributes to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 2141 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 7000, El Segundo, Calif. 90245, or Carnegie Mellon's Randy Pausch Memorial Fund, which primarily supports the university's continued work on the Alice project.
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Mark Roth is a staff writer at the Post-Gazette.
Mark Roth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org -79.99746