Farewell, Patrick

In case you haven’t heard elsewhere, Patrick Tisseghem passed away this past Wednesday.  He was teaching a class in Gothenburg, Sweden, had a heart attack, and died shortly thereafter at hospital.

I’m here in Stockholm right now because I’m speaking at the SharePoint/Exchange Forum this Monday and Tuesday.  But I flew in two days early, and Patrick was planning to stay in Sweden a few extra days so we could hang out here this weekend.  Stockholm is a gorgeous place, but to me it’s going to have a melancholy glow attached to it for some time.

We went to Antarctica together this past December (it meant having set foot on all seven continents for both of us). We were making plans to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. The first time I ever visited Belgium, he spirited me away to the beach with his family. He wasn’t just a professional friend, or a conference friend, he was a bona fide carry-secrets-about-each-other-to-the-grave friend.

It’s really funny that things turned out that way because the first time we met, it was over an exchange of blog posts, which started a short period of antagonism borne of misunderstanding.  We cleared that up pretty quickly, though, and became professional friends in short order.

But that’s what he meant to me.  Here’s what he means to you (at the very least), whether you know it or not:

  • Patrick fought the good fight in terms of development with SharePoint long before SharePoint was cool. Heck, long before it was even legitimately possible.  He’s one of the original pantheon of SharePoint heroes. If not for his efforts (and the other short list of solution builders), I’m not sure where we’d be today in terms of SharePoint having taken off.  I mean, I, and a few others, asked you to develop on SharePoint technology — he (and a few others) went out and did it.  His work influenced countless others. He helped make the initial snowball that picked up mass and started the avalanche.
  • He started blogging about SharePoint technology long before the rest of us, certainly long before any of us at Microsoft.
  • Patrick, along with Jan Tielens and other people at U2U were instrumental in making Web Part development a whole lot easier than it would have been otherwise thanks to their creation of the SmartPart. They evolved it multiple times since then to keep up with technological changes.  And that’s just one of many things Patrick and those with whom he worked did for the community as a whole.
  • If you were privy to any prerelease training on WSS 3.0/MOSS 2007, you have Patrick and Ted Pattison to thank for it. One of the best decisions I made back in 2005 was to hand Patrick and Ted the keys to the kingdom, meaning unbridled access to the development teams and a cooperative relationship with the documentation team. I hooked them up with the Developer and Platform Evangelism team, which led to them developing all the early adopter development training for Microsoft partners, which included worldwide delivery of that content.  Why Patrick?  Because I knew I he had the talent, the motivation, the professionalism, and anything else that might have been relevant.  I just plain trusted him. So did everyone with whom he wound up working. One of the best darned decisions I ever made.
  • Even if you didn’t receive any prerelease training, a large part of the training content in existence stems from, or was inspired by, the work Patrick and Ted did.  That’s certainly true of the Microsoft Official Curriculum for WSS 3.0 and MOSS 2007 development.
  • Patrick literally wrote the book on MOSS 2007 development.  And frankly, that’s a harder job than writing the book on WSS 3.0 development (no disrespect to Ted intended), because the object models for MOSS represent a patchwork of different pieces of functionality developed by different teams, sometimes almost schizophrenically so.  To tie that all together and make it make sense was no small feat indeed.  And then, not having tired of that kind of hair-tearing, he then went out and teamed up with Lars Fastrup (formerly of Ontolica, then Mondosoft) to write the definitive book on SharePoint Search development.
  • If you live in Europe, and wanted SharePoint training, you probably got it from Patrick himself or one of his cohorts at U2U, and if you didn’t, you got it from an outfit that strove for excellence because they have to compete with U2U.  Patrick and his partner, Wim Uyttersprot, built a top-notch outfit devoted to SharePoint, Office, and .NET training/consulting. They’re big on community give-back, and the consulting they do keeps their training extra relevant. When I worked for Microsoft,  it wasn’t acceptable to out-and-out endorse specific partners over others, but I no longer work for Microsoft, so let me say this in no uncertain terms: U2U is simply the best in EMEA, and is among the best worldwide, and while Patrick’s passing is terrible, U2U remains the best.
  • There have been precious few conferences involving SharePoint technology at which Patrick hasn’t spoken, and hasn’t had obscenely high evaluation scores afterwards.  Knowing that Patrick was speaking motivated me to do better myself, and there are many, many others who felt the same way.

Patrick was the master of the wry, knowing smile, keeping quiet until just the right moment and saying just the right insightful thing.  He was a living example of the quiet ones being the ones you need to watch.

My heart goes out to his wife, Linda, and his daughters, Anahi and Laura.  I’ve met them multiple times, and I’ve always thought they had the patience of Job.  Her husband/their dad loved technology, loved to write, loved to teach, and loved to travel. And they let him, because he always had them in his heart and he always came home.   Except for this last time.

He wasn’t a religious man, and neither, for that matter, am I.  But given the current Scandanavian setting, I can’t help but think of an afterlife, in fact, a SharePoint Valhalla, into which Patrick just walked swinging a hammer twice the size of Thor’s.

I could go on for a lot longer, but I’ve got no better testament as to how good a guy he was than that of Terrance and Phillip, our two little Shih Tzus.  On Patrick’s first visit to my house, those dogs immediately made friends with him.  No multi-minute “intruder alert” barking at the outset.  That’s never happened before or since with anyone else. Wise dogs, those boys.

Patrick, my friend, you’ll be missed.

Adios, amigo.

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11 Responses to Farewell, Patrick

  1. Bil Simser says:

    Well said my friend, well said. He will be missed but your fond memories of him help ease the loss. Thank you.

  2. Lars Fastrup says:

    Yes, very well put. I already knew from working with Patrick that he have had a big impact on SharePoint and the community. But it is great to hear more details from you how much he actually mattered. His personality and enthusiasm also helped fuel my passion for SharePoint when I attended his very first SharePoint 2003 course back in august that year. Before that I had little clue about SharePoint. The next versions of SharePoint will undoubtly be different without him. Patrick will for sure be missed by many beyond his family and the people at U2U. I will never be able to forget him.

  3. Yoseph says:

    We usually have many heroes in other fields, Environment, Science,etc … But we don’t have any appreciation on a specific IT field,hopefully we can appreciate more what he had done by making him as an official ‘hero’ of sharepoint.

  4. Arno Nel says:

    Well said !

    Profke will be missed 😦

  5. Mark Kruger says:

    Well said Fitz… Patrick will be missed.

  6. Ed Senez says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write this tribute. He will be missed.

  7. Sharon says:

    Hey Fitz, I just heard the news today from a fellow ex-MSFTie. Just can’t believe it but what a lovely a tribute you have written.

  8. Scott Ellis says:

    Well wrote Fitz. Patrick will be missed

  9. ss ahmed says:

    we will surely miss him. I personally had a very high regard for him. As you mentioned, he was a very humble person, no doubt about that! I always admired him. I will miss him.

    S.S. Ahmed

  10. Toby Smith says:

    I am in complete shock by this news. I have had my head buried in code the last few months and am just now reemerging. I’ve been working with SharePoint since the STS (and even digital dashboard) days, and feel we just lost such a great leader and friend in the SharePoint space. I was fortunate enough to meet Patrick at a SharePoint early adopters training in Redmond for WSS/MOSS 2007 a few years back. I have always had such respect for him and his work. I highly recommend his book to colleges and was looking forward to more from him. He will surely be missed.

  11. sandrar says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. πŸ™‚ Cheers! Sandra. R.

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