Chris Gulker, founder of InMenlo.com, the Menlo Park website devoted to photos and stories on local people and events, died Oct. 27 at his home in Menlo Park of brain cancer. He was 59.
A memorial service and celebration of his life will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12, at Trinity Church in Menlo Park.
The tributes to him on his personal website demonstrate the breadth of his pursuits — photographer, writer, pioneer in electronic publishing, product evangelist — and how many people he touched, many of whom he knew only via the blogosphere.
Initially drawn to science, his interest in photography was sparked by his high school teacher Bill Moos while attending Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio. He continued to take photos during his college years at Occidental College, where he graduated in 1974.
He joined the staff of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner as a staff photographer in 1978 and was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize during his tenure there.
In 1989, Mr. Gulker moved to Menlo Park and joined the San Francisco Examiner as picture editor and then as director of media development. His Wikipedia entry explains his contribution to that newspaper:
"Turning the Examiner into a 'digital laboratory,' he converted the newspaper from black and white to color by implementing a production system of his own design that used MacIntoshes to do color separations and made The Examiner the first major American daily to switch to full-color production using desktop technology. ...
"In 1994, Gulker's editorial workflow system, dubbed the 'virtual newsroom,' was demonstrated at both Seybold shows and supported the creation of 'a real Internet newspaper that used the Net throughout the process from story and photo solicitation to delivery.' The system provided the publishing infrastructure for The Gate, the online newspaper jointly operated by the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle. ..."
In 1995, Mr. Gulker started a personal website, which he maintained until the final days of his illness. Academics have cited gulker.com as one of the earliest weblogs — "the first to propose a network of bloggers."
He also pioneered two of the most effective means through which blogging emerged as a social medium — the blogroll and link attrition.
In the past four years, he chronicled living with cancer and the challenges of reduced mobility with an aplomb and strength that many readers found remarkable and inspirational.
In 1995, Mr. Gulker joined Apple, where he oversaw strategic relations for the company's Design and Publishing Markets groups and served as "electronic publishing guru."
From 1997 to 2003, he wrote a technology column for London-based newspaper, The Independent. After leaving Apple, he joined the executive team of a number of startups and at the time of his cancer diagnosis was a product manager at Adobe Systems.
For the past 15 months, Mr. Gulker was once again pounding the pavement as a press photographer, this time as a labor of love for the hyperlocal blog, InMenlo, that he started with his wife, Linda Hubbard Gulker, and friend Scott Loftesness in 2009. It was his portraits of local people, which showed considerable range and diversity, that gained the blog much of its following.
Mr. Gulker was an avid science fiction reader. When William Gibson read on gulker.com that he was worried he wouldn't be alive when the author released his next book, the author FedEx'd an advance copy, which his fan sat down and read cover to cover. Author and fan later met when Gibson appeared at Kepler's bookstore in Menlo Park.
Mr. Gulker's interests also included hiking, cooking and gardening. Earlier this spring he and granddaughter Grace planted a new vegetable garden together.
In addition to his wife Linda and granddaughter Grace, he is survived by stepson John Getze and daughter-in-law Julie Getze, and aunt, Theresa Simon.
Those wishing to make a contribution in his memory can do so either to Western Reserve Academy, where a fund is being established in his name — c/o James A. Gundy, Assistant Head of School, Western Reserve Academy, 115 College Street, Hudson, Ohio 44236; or to the University of California, San Francisco, 514 Parnassus Ave., P.O. Box 45339, San Francisco, CA 94145-0339, for continued brain tumor research.
Go to tinyurl.com/ChrisGulker2010 for the full story on InMenlo, including Chris Gulker's account of his photography experience at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.