I Already Miss Brian

by Dave Michels
Brian at the TalkingPointz WHQ Booth

Yesterday, Brian Riggs died in a tragic swimming accident on the coast not far from his home in Southern California. I’m devastated by this news, and I’m so sorry for his wife Hidemi, father, and everyone else that was close to him.

CBSLocal: The victim was pulled unconscious from the water at 1,000 Steps Beach by Orange County lifeguards sometime before 11:30 a.m.Officials said the 52-year-old victim — now identified as Brian Riggs of Aliso Viejo — went into full cardiac arrest. He received treatment on the beach before being airlifted to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo where he was declared dead, officials said. CBS2’s Adrianna Weingold said authorities are urging even the most experienced swimmers to be careful in the high tides and surf.

Brian was a special friend. He was one of the most like-able in the UC analyst community. He was easy going, funny, and very smart.

I have memories and photos of Brian from around the world: Prague, Bermuda, Capetown, Paris, London, and all the usual US venues. He was the one with all that camera equipment. I can’t say I really understood his photography, but he loved taking abstract photos. Last year we stayed a day after Cisco Live to explore the city together. He wanted to to go to the pinball museum (who does that?). A year ago, we explored downtown LA together after an Genband event – we had a blast at his favorite bookstore (The Last Bookstore).

I last saw Brian in May in the UK. We were there for separate reasons, but managed to meet after he spent a day exploring remote caves (or was it mines). Brian often combined his business travel with off-the-grid exploration. Catacombs in Paris, cemeteries in Prague, caves in Bermuda, and so on. In London my wife and I met Brian in a pub. She knew him well too. The three of us explored Central Park after a Mitel conference a few years back, and he made it over to my home a few years ago during a Level (3) conference.

Over the past few years he started taking his father with him on some trips. I was so jealous of that. I lost my father about twenty years ago, and I was envious that they could spend so much time together as adults. Now, the father has outlived his son.

I chatted with Brian the evening before the day he died. We frequently chatted via IM. He was excited about the new emojis in Google Hangouts as well as the latest CBS reboot of Star Trek that he recently discovered. Most of our chats involved multiple, for-real laugh-out-louds. Brian had a very unusual (and compatible) sense of humor.

Brian at a 2016 Unify Event

Brian was one for adventure, but he wasn’t reckless. He enjoyed para-gliding over the beaches not far from where he lived, and he once shared with me all of his safety precautions. When he explored remote places alone, he always made sure that someone knew where he was headed. As much as he enjoyed exploration, he would have nothing to do with non-relevant activities at a conference. If the event dinner involved a bus he wasn’t likely to be on it.

He loved adventure, but also worked hard. If he had an angle or theory on something he would pull on that UC thread for as long as it took. He also had a lot of respect for others including his peers at Ovum (and Current before that), the vendors he covered, and most of the analysts in the industry.

Brian was full of life. There’s some solace in that he died doing something he loved. He always made the most of his environment.

Brian went way too soon. He had much more to give, and he will be missed.