Randy Pausch did "not go gentle into that good night," to quote from poet Dylan Thomas. Yet, in Pausch's case, people across academic disciplines and representing many causes offer differing theories about the way he made an impact on the world.
The heroic last act in the life of this CMU professor has left an enduring legacy. The astonishing truth may be that each of them is right, and that this Pittsburgh educator, hailed by one colleague as "the most famous computer scientist who ever lived," has the distinction of leaving behind a legacy as bright and variegated as a constellation of stars.
When his sports coach gave him a tough time, he said, another teacher told him: "That's a good thing.
Now it turns out that the lecture will not be the final public words of the 47-year old academic, who is dying of pancreatic cancer.
Hyperion, Walt Disney's publishing wing, is understood to have agreed a .75 million (£3.3 million) deal to publish "The Last Lecture" by Prof Pausch and Jeff Zaslow, the Wall Street Journal reporter who first brought the September address at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to public attention.
As I write (in early April, 2008), Pausch reports he's recovering from a series of reversals he describes as a "standing eight count." But his good news doesn't deceive him.
He notes that pancreatic cancer did to the photographer Dith Pran ("The Killing Fields") what Pol Pot couldn't -- it buried him in three months.