Douglas Adams died suddenly on May 11, 2001. He was at the gym, and it was apparently a heart attack. Completely sudden and unexpected. Although after that it seemed like we started hearing of more cases of people who were not that old and in reasonably good shape dying suddenly. I'm thinking more recently of John Ritter, but there were at least a couple of others, I'm pretty sure.
I remember reading the headline on Yahoo that day and just feeling completely stunned. Right away, I wanted to tell Demetrius. He was at a meeting of the central Ohio humanists group. I told him, and he shared it with the rest of the group. Adams was an outspoken atheist, so I think there was a "kindred spirit" connection for the group--a "He was one of us" sort of thing. Plus, a number of them were fans as well.
After that I started Googling for stories about what happened--it was later said to be a heart attack, but we were pretty much hearing "collapsed at the gym" that day. (Isn't going to the gym supposed to be a healthy thing to do? We were struck by the morbid irony of this for a while: "Gee, I should go to the gym today and keep up that healthy exercise habit--except that I might die suddenly if I do!" In the process of searching for stories, I found out about his more recent projects, including internet projects, that I had never heard of.
I discovered that he was a huge Macintosh fan and couldn't stand Microsoft Windows. I found that he was a founding director of h2g2, formerly The Digital Village, a digital media and Internet company with which he created the 1998 CD-ROM Starship Titanic.
And I found this video he made of his 5 year old daughter Polly. That was when the tears came for me--watching this video that a doting dad made of his little girl. Click here to read about the video (John Cleese did a cameo in it) and to watch it.