R.I.P. Alan Sawyer

alan sawyer with emmy

Alan Sawyer, and yes, that’s an Emmy.

By now, you’ve probably heard of author Iain Banks’ passing after his battle with cancer. I enjoyed The Wasp Factory and his “Culture” series of sci-fi novels, and I’m sure that there are glowing tributes to him all over the web today.

I want to write about someone a little less famous than Iain Banks, but still important: Alan Sawyer. He was diagnosed with cancer in early September 2012 and died on Saturday night.

Alan was a part of the Toronto tech scene, and that’s how I met him. He was involved in digital media and content as well as mobile technologies, and we often crossed paths at tech gatherings, and we’d talk about all sorts of stuff: current projects, those crazy CD-ROM days of the ’90s, interesting new places to get a drink in Toronto, possible collaborations, and so on.

When he found out that I was attending the 2011 South by Southwest conference, he sought me out and we had a wonderfully boozy brunch on the rooftop patio of the Iron Cactus in Austin, on the start of what I recall to be a perfect day. We caught up again later during that trip at the Yeasayer concert at Austin City Limits. It was a strange, whirlwind time for me — I’d just been separated, had my own brush with death only a month before, and was seriously contemplating leaving Microsoft. In the chaos of the conference and in my life, and having spent weeks on the road and far away from home, it was great to see a familiar face. I will always remember and be grateful for hanging out with Alan at SxSW.

Requiescat in pace, Alan, and thanks.

According to Alan’s wife Kim, there will be visitations at the Giffen-Mack Funeral Home, located at 2570 Danforth Avenue (at Main Street), on Wednesday, June 12th from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. and Thursday, June 13th from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.. A memorial celebration of Alan’s life will be held on Saturday, June 15th at 10:30 a.m. and will be followed by a reception.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *