Michael O’Connor Clarke — @michaelocc to so many of his friends — passed away last night after losing a short but brutal battle with esophageal cancer. There are so many who count themselves in that camp, myself included. He was generous with his considerable knowledge and talent, always delighted to take some time for a coffee and a chat. Our talks were infrequent but always inspiring and he taught me a great deal about the industry we shared. The last time was a brief cup of Tim Hortons partway along both of our commutes, shared in celebration of having both being welcomed into our respective organization’s Vice Presidents club. I remember riding the subway into work after, thinking I was lucky to have so many people in my life to look up to and learn from — a feeling I will always have about Michael.
This photo is how I think of him. The smirk is almost a MOCC trademark, as is the impish twinkle in his eye. Michael was an incredible contributor to the Toronto Tech community, always ready to volunteer for a cause or event like hohoto, Third Tuesday, or mesh. Every one of those was a million times better and more successful because he was involved. His Facebook profile has turned into an amazing outpouring from all corners of the web and every post there speaks volumes about Michael and the generosity of his spirit. He fought this cancer with the same tenacity that he embraced life and it was a wonder to watch him tweet his way through it, especially as he publicly shared that journey with his father all the way from Birmingham. This tweet was a bittersweet and remarkable summary and left me literally weeping:
He leaves behind a wonderful family who I have never had the opportunity to meet: loving wife Leona and his children Charlie, Lily and Ruairi. I can’t even begin to imagine what they’re going through and the immensely gaping MOCC-shaped hole that’s now in their lives. I encourage you to support them by donating via the Support Michael O’Connor Clarke website, which itself is a testament to the love so many felt toward him.
Goodbye my friend. The world is a much richer place for having known you. Rest in peace doesn’t seem like an entirely appropriate parting. Rest in fun, perhaps, is a more apt farewell.