Remembering Andy

February 22, 2009

[This is the eulogy I gave at Andy’s funeral yesterday. I managed to get through the whole thing without crying until the last line. The most difficult part of the funeral for me was listening to the 53 bells, celebrating each year of his life.]

Good afternoon. I should preface my remarks reminding you that I am a university professor, and not a preacher. You will not get a sermon with three points, rather, from me you’ll get a two hour lecture, and I’ll give you a ten minute break.

When Andy was young, and his brain began to wake up and ask “who am I?” he reached into the Sorting Hat and pulled out a slip of paper that said: NEW – COMMUNICATE. He had no idea what this oracle meant, and shoved the piece of paper into his pocket, and saved it in a scrapbook.

Part of this oracle came partially true in two of his first jobs. For a while Andy sold EARTHSHOES. You know, those shoes that make your toes higher than your heels. They still make them. Then, he sold one of the new items made famous in the 70s: WATERBEDS. Well, the “communication” part didn’t make sense, but these first ventures WERE new.

When Andy moved to Boston, he was a first generation computer salesman. He worked in downtown Boston (COMPUTERLAND), and I remember visiting him there, surrounded by all these computers and devices. I was a bit skeptical. He was selling them before most of us even knew what they were. When he moved to Andover, he worked for Farallon, a company that made hardware dedicated to networking, which is, of course, COMMUNICATION between computers. Hmmmm…

Thank God, being a smart guy, he studied everything he could get his hands on about computers and this new generation of technology. His degree from the University of Andy served him well.

Not too long thereafter, the internet was born and Andy was one of the first with an email account. And he even knew how to get those primitive web browsers to work. Netscape, Mosaic, you may remember them.

Fast-forward to his crowning achievement: ClickZ, an online resource for internet marketing that he founded. Finally, the slip of paper from the Sorting Hat made sense. He was communicating to the online business world about doing business on this terrifying new frontier.

A few months before Andy died, he asked me to take over the administration of and oversee the other domains he held. He confessed to me that one of his guilty pleasures was purchasing domains [e.g.]. We went online and looked through a remarkable list of domains that he owned, ticking them off to indicate that they may expire on their expiration date.

So, having taken over the administration of this part of Andy’s life, I now receive email notices from time to time that is about to expire; speak now or forever hold your peace. As Andy had already told me to let them expire, I let them expire.

The morning Andy died, I got out of bed; and with my morning coffee, read my email. There were an amazing number of domain expiration notices this morning. Being mildly superstitious, I thought to myself: this must be a sign, perhaps Andy’s domain too will expire today. I looked down the list of seven expiring domains:

This last domain belonged to his wife, Jeanne; it was the blog Andy set up for her to write about her experiences as a mom: a full contact mom. This domain was expiring?? I emailed Jeanne and confirmed that she was ready to let it go. She emailed back “let it go.”

There was an irony in the language of the email that came with each expiration notice; see whether you agree:

This is just an FYI that because we did not receive a request to renew it, and because “” has expired, it has just been deleted from the registry. As such, it will soon become available for registration by anyone. If you would still like to recover “” please reply to this email within 5 days stating that you would like to do a “redemption”. The cost for this is a one-time fee of $100.

Thank you very much for choosing DreamHost!
The Happy DreamHost Domain Registration Team

Ok, now you’re asking: why is he telling us all this? As Carl Jung might analyze it, there seemed to be a familiar synchronicity in all these expiration notices. All this talk about expiring, and being deleted from the registry and a 5 day purgatorial waiting period, just in case you wanted to pay for redemption made me nervous.

I’m telling you all this because Andy and I always had a deal: whoever died first, the dead one would do something to say that they were on the other side; like stopping a clock. Andy and I revisited that promise a few months ago. He didn’t remember the stopping the clock part, but rather that we would send a sign. All these expiration notices could be a sign from Andy, but probably not. But still: I had the feeling that today might be the day. But there were no phone messages, no emails, so I guess he’s hanging in there. I took a shower. I got out, dried off, went to my computer again to look to see whether there was any news, and there is was: Andy had died 20 minutes ago. I cried, gathered my thoughts, and, like my brothers and father, decided to write a post about Andy on my blog. But for some strange reason, I couldn’t access it. I panicked. I checked other websites on the same server and they were all working. I tried another browser, no luck. I restarted my computer, ran a disk repair program, but no deal. My blog was unavailable. Dead.

Not knowing what else to do, I texted my computer genius husband, Daniel, who checked it out, only to report that is seemed to be working just fine. I typed in the URL again, and there it was.

Andy, was that you?

I conclude this remembrance with some selected comments taken from the readers of his blog.

In this blog you’ll find many people who’s lives would have been different had they not had the pleasure of meeting Andy Bourland. He was a friend, a confidant, and a colleague who touched the lives of many, and made the world a better place.

His words, thoughts, and genius will live on for all of us. It’s the little things that matter and Andy was a master of the small kind acts that change the world beyond one life.

Andy was always intelligent, always sincere, and always kind. I’m very glad to have called him friend, limited though our interactions were (we never met in person). He was both a sweetie and a visionary, and I’ll miss him.

Andy you were a generous person who was always willing to help and encourage people to think and go beyond where they were willing to go.

Sure, he was an Internet publishing genius, but also a great person, and that is the legacy for which he will be remembered longest.

Every time we spoke I left inspired and energized to do things better, faster, tighter — to take risks and continue exploring what it means to be an entrepreneur. From our earliest chats and that unforgettable meeting at the Chicago Airport in a lounge, to our latest calls and emails before you fell ill, I thank you for your advice, friendship, mentorship and inspiration.

Andy was the best boss anyone could possibly have: compassionate, tough, smart, generous. He wrote the nicest thing anyone ever said about me and published it for the world to see. He changed my life and enabled me to find prosperity I never knew existed. His sweetness and good humor made work for him a pleasure and our occasional disputes (mostly after ClickZ was sold) only made me realize how much I love him. Andy changed my life for the better. I hope he will always be my friend. God bless him. Godspeed.

Being a weekend aide at the Hospice House, I only knew Andy a short while. He was a gentleman with a quiet, genuine soul. His blue eyes and smile spoke volumes as his speech started failing him. He passed with courage and dignity as, I’m sure, he had lived his life.

It’s times like these that words are hard to come by to articulate the sadness and loss. This quote was given to me by my grandmother and may it give your family some peace and solace:

We cannot always
Understand the ways
Of Almighty God-
The crosses which He sends
Us, the sacrifices which He
Demands of us…
But we accept with faith
and resignation His holy
will with no looking back
to what might have been,
And we are at peace.
– Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

In Andy’s final post on his blog he offered these remarks about facing his end:

“I’ve outlived pessimistic prognostications several times over the years, and I plan to live every day as a healthy person rather than playing the role of the sick patient waiting to die. I don’t give up that easily.
I’m prepared for the worst but hoping for the best. Should my time be short, I’m at peace with that too. I’ve lived a great life, have had many wonderful blessings, have been able to touch many lives and have no lingering regrets or unfinished business. If it’s my time to go, I go in peace.”

Andy, your time came, and we all know that you are at peace. Know that you are loved and will be greatly missed.

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