Paul Stanton Davis DS’77 died in Seattle, WA on January 10, 2014, of complications following cancer surgery. He was 54 years old. Paul was born in Stamford, CT, and graduated from Greenwich High School. Seeking a change from his New England upbringing, Paul went west to Deep Springs. His preferred labor assignment was dairy boy; his pet project the construction of a solar heating system on the dairy barn’s roof for a solar energy class. He felt he gained the most from classes in composition and public speaking.
Technology’s power to transform individual lives and entire societies informed Paul’s interpretation of a life of service. When he transferred to Brown University in 1981, he planned an independent major, technology in society, combining courses in history, sociology, engineering, and computer science. In 1984, Paul bought an original Macintosh computer, and became an early believer in the possibilities of “personal” computers. Moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1986, Paul used his computer savvy to overhaul computerized subscriptions for the Whole Earth Review, and went on to work on the hypertext version of the Whole Earth Catalog. He worked at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, forming an interest in expanded computer use by non-profits. This led him to pursue a Master of Non-Profit Administration at the University of San Francisco. In 1994, Paul became the first Mac software tester for a small start-up called Netscape, where his chosen title was ‘Empiricist.’ In 1999, former Netscape colleagues lured him to Seattle and Amazon.com, where he managed the team responsible for keeping the website running. That experience led to an eight-year hiatus from the tech industry, but in 2008, Paul joined data visualization start-up Tableau Software. He stayed through six years of rapid growth and a successful IPO. Tableau’s CTO described him as “the leader and heart and soul of the Server testing team.”
Paul showed extraordinary courage and perseverance in the face of illnesses that shaped, but never defined, his life. In 1981, he was diagnosed with an aggressive non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Radiation and chemotherapy were brutal – and lifesaving – but had devastating long-term side effects. In 2002, months after walking a marathon for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Paul developed chemotherapy-induced heart failure. His response was to train as a life coach, helping people living with chronic medical conditions. In 2004, he underwent surgery for a radiation-induced oral squamous cell carcinoma, which recurred in 2013. With his customary eloquence, heart and wit, Paul chronicled his battles with cancer at http://nosmallplans.com/pvtsm and http://nosmallplans/again. Paul was an avid cyclist, crossing the United States at 21, and recently, riding a power-assisted bicycle on Seattle’s hills. He took great pleasure in esoteric English folk dancing and straight-ahead jazz. He shouted the correct answers at Jeopardy contestants on TV, and delivered clever wordplay with a small, sly smile. Paul enjoyed tending a small flock of backyard chickens, and providing a lap for his favorite cat. He listened intently, argued brilliantly, gave generously. Paul was happily married to architect Kimberly McKittrick, whom he met at Brown.