My friend Martin passed away the other day. He was 42. He leaves behind a lovely wife and three children.
Martin lived in Switzerland, being that he was Swiss, that made sense. I worked with him for a short while in California in the late 1990s (at the peak of the dot-com boom, which we were not a part of). We stayed in touch. The last time we visited, it was around New Years 2008. We spent a couple of days together and we went sledding on a mountain near Zurich. At one point Martin vomited next to the trail; he hadn’t been feeling too great that week.
A few days later he went to the doctor and was diagnosed with leukemia.
Martin was an extraordinary man. He was one of the most, if not the most, brilliant persons I’ve ever known. He was as unpretentious, genuine, gentle, good humored, and honest as they come.
He was one of those truly scary-smart people that could always explain what he was thinking about or working on in a way that I (being of lesser mental capacity, obviously) could understand. It was a joy to talk with him. He never made you feel stupid. Ever. And you knew he could do just that anytime he wanted.
In California, he was the true brains of the start-up company we worked for. I am convinced that we would have crashed and burned within months without him. (The company was later sold, but I had a falling out with the founder whom I determined to be an unethical loon and left long before that). Martin wasn’t crazy about the situation either, but he plowed through it until he could make a reasonable exit.
Since leaving that job, Martin and his family moved to Boston for a while, then back to Switzerland about six years ago. With all the demands of job, life and family, we would catch up periodically, but not often.
I will miss him. His family will miss him. The world will miss him. Why? In his short life he did some notable things. What could he have achieved if he was here longer? If anything, we could use thousands more Martin Bachtolds.
Rest in peace, my friend.