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One Of Microsoft’s First Takes Own Life

One of Microsoft’s first five employees died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on June 24. Ric Weiland (1953-2006), lead programmer and developer of MS’s BASIC and COBOL systems, as well as an influential and active member of the gay community. His generosity and contributions to many gay organizations is likely to be well-remembered.


“Ric was an exceptionally generous man who made extraordinary contributions to our work,” said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director, Lambda Legal.

His quiet commitment made the work of so many organizations possible - and our community is better off for it,” Cathcart said.

Matt Foreman, the Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, remembered Weiland as a quiet humble man who was committed to using his wealth for the betterment of gay Americans.

“The breadth and scope of this commitment was immense and unwavering,” said Foreman. “Our community has lost a wonderful friend and leader, and the Task Force extends its deepest sympathies to Ric’s partner Mike Schaefer and all those who knew and loved Ric.”

One of his pet projects was the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.

His magnificent gifts helped numerous organizations, including ours, to not only survive but to thrive,” said Kevin Jennings the Founder and Executive Director of GLSEN. “He never sought anything - attention, credit, fame - in return for his giving, which is the mark of a true philanthropist.”

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office said Weiland died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in his Seattle home. He leaves behind his partner Mike Schaefer. Friends said he had been depressed for some time.

Following retiring from Microsoft in 1988, Weiland donated more than $100 million to various gay and HIV groups, as well as to Stanford University and the National Audobon Society. Weiland had been a classmate of Bill Gates and Paul Allen at Seattle’s Lakeside School, and later joined them in the early days of Microsoft. He spent several years on the board of the Pride Foundation, which used its holdings in some major public companies to advocate for change.

Also died this week: Jeffrey M. Harbers, 54, who played an important role in creating the Office line in the late 80s.

July 2nd, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Corporate, General | no comments

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