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Founders' Forum
by Emily Wilska

On Friday, August 20th, the WebTV family lost one of its friendliest and most creative members. Jos Claerbout had been with us for two years when a sudden, inexplicable heart attack took his life. Like many people do when they lose someone they love, we find ourselves asking why. Why did a healthy, active 25-year-old die in such a way? Why Jos? Why now?

We haven't come up with any answers that can lessen the pain of losing him, haven't found any explanations that can stop us from shaking our heads in wonder. We haven't been able to completely let go of the pain, anger, and awful, intense sadness that have filled us in the wake of his death.

What we have been able to do, though, is remember how much Jos meant to all of us, how deeply he touched our lives, how much he lit up our little corner of the world. Although his life was short -- far, far too short -- he made every moment of it count. His greatest gift to those around him was teaching us to do the same.

Jos came to WebTV in the summer of 1997 to answer email for Customer Care. Although he eventually moved to other departments, he spent his entire time here working to make the WebTV experience as enjoyable as it could be for our subscribers.

He spent time in the Previews Department helping to test new upgrades before we released them to the public. When he joined the Quality Assurance team, he acted as a bridge between Customer Care folks and engineers to make sure that we fixed the problems our subscribers reported. His most recent post was with our Publications group, where he helped Web site developers create pages that are WebTV-friendly.

Although Jos loved what he did at work and spent hours in front of his computer, his day didn't end at 5. In his free time, he rode his bike, made films with his friends, wrote screenplays, created Web sites, and knit. Yup, you read that correctly: he taught himself to knit; made crazy, colorful hats (called toessels); and sold them online. The price of a custom-knit toessel? Two dozen Styrofoam heads, or "a really cool and enormous custom-built hat rack," or artwork, or whatever else you might be able to offer in trade.

Because it wasn't the money that mattered to Jos. His favorite source for clothing was a funky secondhand shop called Ragtime, and his mode of transportation, more often than not, was a bike with no gears. What he cared about were the adventures that life had to offer -- from meeting new people to working on a fishing boat in Alaska to dreaming up new inventions. His life was a journey, and he was always willing to invite others along for the ride.

We are struggling to come to grips with the fact that Jos -- fabulous, funny, brilliant Jos -- is gone. But as painful and difficult as this struggle is, we're trying to keep our chins up, knowing that, above all, Jos never wanted anyone to be sad.

As someone once said, the death of one dream does not mean the end of dreaming. I think Jos would agree. So as we try to understand his death, as we start to heal, we're remembering how wonderful his dreams were, and how he encouraged us to make our own come true. We will think of Jos when we do what we love, when we take advantage of the adventures that pop up every day, when we allow ourselves to dream. And that, I think, is the greatest tribute we can pay.

Thanks for everything, Jos. You will be missed.