Gary Chapman

  • Born: August 8, 1952
  • Died: December 14, 2010
  • Location: Austin, Texas

Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
Tel. (512) 452-8811

Tribute & Message From The Family

Gary Chapman, a beloved professor, renowned Internet expert, and passionate voice for social justice, died doing one of the activities he loved the most -- pursuing travel and adventure with good friends. On December 14, he and several friends were kayaking on the Languin River in the Guatemalan highlands. It was a beautiful day in a gorgeous part of the world, his friends recalled, and Chapman was excited and buoyant and full of life, when he suddenly suffered a massive heart attack. The many people who loved him took a little comfort in learning that Gary, age 58, had been able to embrace life with his customary enthusiasm and joy until the very end. “He knew how to live life more fully than anyone I’ve ever known,” said his close friend, Peter Lewis.

A senior lecturer at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, Gary Chapman was an international and national authority on Internet policy, telecommunications, and technology policy. He was the director of the 21st Century Project, which centers on expanding public participation in science and technology, at the LBJ School, as well as associate director of the Telecommunications and Information Policy Institute.

Chapman, who was one of the country’s first observers to recognize and predict the enormous potential of the Internet to transform education, commerce, and social connections, was a highly regarded speaker who lectured nationally and internationally. He wrote for and was quoted in top publications, including The New York Times, The New Republic, Technology Review, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. For six years, he wrote an internationally syndicated column on technology and society, called “Digital Nation.” “He was fascinated by technology and communications,” Peter Lewis said. “He always focused on doing the right thing – of making sure everybody had access to this new world.”

More than anything, Gary loved teaching at the LBJ School. He was repeatedly honored for his teaching, winning the Texas Excellence in Teaching Award in 2001. He inspired his students, he challenged them, he worried about them, he kept in touch with many of them for years. The morning he left for Guatemala, his wife, journalist Carol Flake Chapman recalled, he got up at 4 a.m. to finish a letter of recommendation for one of his students; the letter couldn’t simply be good, it had to be excellent.

Born in Hollywood, California, in 1952, Chapman graduated from Occidental College and attended graduate school at Stanford University. He was a veteran of the Vietnam War, where he was a Green Beret, but he was also a man almost everyone described as “gentle.” He loved music, from classical to Springsteen; he was a gourmet chef; he was an outdoors enthusiast; and he had an extraordinary capacity for friendship. “He could talk about everything from shotgun shooting to philosophy,” said Peter Lewis. “Everything interested him. He was an omnivore when it came to knowledge and enthusiasms.”

Chapman and his wife, Carol, volunteered their time at Ground Zero after 9/11 and were deeply involved in helping Hurricane Katrina refugees who came to Austin. Ms. Chapman, a journalist who lives in Austin, survives him, as do his father, stepmother and a stepbrother of Solvang, California.
Gary Chapman was a man deeply committed to life and to bettering the world. Think of him when you have the opportunity to speak out about injustice or to support younger generations as they grow up. The world will never have enough people as openhearted and curious and exuberant as he was – and right now, we are all missing him terribly.

Memorial service is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 8 at Central Presbyterian Church. If you wish to make a donation in Gary’s honor, the Gary Chapman Memorial Fund is being established at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.