sorry to inform the Class of '73 and the Lee community
that Leonard Zubkoff passed away
August 29, 2002 in a helicopter
crash in Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness
The accident, which occurred while Mr.
Zubkoff was vacationing in Alaska, also claimed the life
of his flying instructor.
Mr. Zubkoff was born in Seattle
and earned a master's degree in computer science from
Carnegie Mellon University after graduating summa cum
laude in mathematics and physics at the University of
He moved to the Bay Area in 1985 to
become the principal scientist for a Menlo Park company
developing artificial intelligence software.
In 1994, Mr. Zubkoff joined Oracle
Corp., the database software giant located in Redwood
Shores, as principal member of its technical staff. He
worked at Oracle by day and spent nights at home
refining an alternative "open source" computer operating
system known as Linux, to make it run better and faster
on all kinds of computers.
He continued that work when he
joined VA Linux Systems Inc,
a Fremont company now known as VA Software Corp., as
chief technical officer in 1998.
"Not too long after Leonard joined VA,
I went to Linux Expo with him," said Larry Augustin, the
company's founder. "I remember walking around the show
with him and people just walking up and asking for his
autograph. Leonard, like other important contributors to
the Linux movement, received a lot of acclaim from
people. He didn't get paid for doing that work. Of
course, he got paid when I hired him. He did (the
earlier work) because he enjoyed it; he wanted to
contribute. People appreciated that."
Mr. Zubkoff also founded Dandelion
Digital, a small, state-of-the-art recording studio that
produced "filk" -- originally a typo of "folk" --
recordings on compact discs. The music got its start in
late-night folk- singing circles at science fiction
conventions. Dandelion Digital, which ceased operations
in 1999, produced several titles, including "Made by
Magic" and "Masquerading as Human."
He retired in 2001 and moved to
Crystal Bay, Nev., on the north shore of Lake Tahoe,
where he enjoyed canoeing, hiking and driving his white
Mitsubishi 3000 GT sports car.
"Leonard was an extremely bright
guy who enjoyed life to the fullest," said Lynn Gold, a
friend and former work colleague of Mr. Zubkoff's. "He
was equally at ease debugging Linux code or piloting a
helicopter. One of his goals was to travel to the
highest point in all 50 states."
Mr. Zubkoff, who was twice divorced,
is survived by his brother David Zubkoff, Class of '77,
of Purciville, Va.
He is survived by his brother David,
class of '77, of Purcellville VA.