Patrick Tisseghem, one of a kind

Ascend workshop dry run, Amsterdam, December 2005

The SharePoint community has lost a great teacher and mentor: Patrick Tisseghem has passed away at the tender age of 39, apparently from a heart attack while teaching a class in Sweden on Wednesday.

As co-founder of U2U and one of the world's leading experts on SharePoint and many related technologies, Patrick touched the lives of countless people. I first worked with him in 2005, at the Office Ascend training dry run in Amsterdam (above, with his daughters Anahi and Laura on his desktop wallpaper), and it was an opportunity to witness his unique blend of intellect, humility, and humor in action. This was an event that most people would dread: standing in front of a room full of opinionated Microsoft technical experts for two days while they tried to poke holes in every little detail of the MOSS developer content that he and Ted Pattison had developed. But Patrick handled it with grace and class, smiling his knowing smile while rewriting complex code samples on the fly. He had a rare knack for making even the most complicated topics sound simple, obvious, and fun.

Patrick's productivity and pace of work set a standard few could ever match, and I think he may have logged more air miles in recent years than anyone I know. He taught workshops all over the world, wrote samples and demos constantly, and was a perennial star at developer events such as TechEd, where his presence always skewed the survey ratings upward. (I followed him at an event in Belgium last year, and found it very intimidating.) He wrote the first comprehensive book on MOSS development, and the first book on SharePoint's index and search services; SharePoint's success in the developer community owes a big debt to Patrick's quiet leadership.

I heard the news this morning and did a quick search online for Patrick's name. The first dozen or so hits were friends and colleagues who had posted their thoughts and condolences for his family, and then, immediately after those, was a link to a post that Patrick did on Tuesday about Recycling Application Pools in Windows Server 2008. It's no biggie, a throw-away post by his standards, but a good example of his playful tone and helpful approach in action.

I went through some photos from recent years and found a few more to share, below. If you ever met him, you know what an amazing person we've lost; and if you didn't, you missed a real treat.

Bangalore, India, March 2006 Bangalore, India, March 2006 everyone loves Patrick (TechEd/Orlando, June 2007)