We Lost Gareth Swanepoel.


Thirteen years ago, I met Gareth Swanepoel (@GarethSwan) for the first time, interviewed him for his first real sysadmin job, and … turned him down.

Gareth Swanepoel circa 2007

Thankfully, my manager overruled me and hired him anyway.

Thank goodness – and thank goodness Gareth forgave me for my incredibly bad judgment, hahaha.

Gareth proved to be one of the hardest-working, most-determined people I’d ever met. He was endlessly curious – it wasn’t enough to solve a problem – he wanted to know how the thing worked, whatever it was. He wanted to know everything about hardware, operating systems, networking, science, and eventually, databases.

When I left Southern Wine & Spirits, Gareth had the “good fortune” of cleaning up the messes I’d left behind. He grew to love databases, moving on to Pragmatic Works, then teaching classes to share what he knew, then moved on to the big goal that most SQL Server people dream of accomplishing: he got a job at Microsoft.

Along the way, we shared so many laughs, beers, and meats. When Tim Ford & I launched SQLCruise, Gareth immediately wanted to do a SQLBBQ at his house, cooking the pre-cruise party, sharing his pool, and introducing everyone to his wonderful family.

To know Gareth was to smile and to share.

Gareth greeted everyone with incredibly wide smiles, and he wanted to know everything about you. If you knew him, you surely witnessed him nodding excitedly and saying, “Yeah?” He wanted to encourage you to go on about whatever you were interested in, and he wanted to develop the same interests too. He wanted to know what made you happy, and it made him happy, too.


I have so many great memories with Gareth. The last time we were hanging out, we were racing a Porsche around in the Nevada desert and eating a crazy dinner with Ryan & Andrea Allred. He said yes to everything, and the joy that he found everywhere was inspiring.

Gareth brought the best parts of childhood into adulthood. He was endlessly curious and excited. From his Lego collection to his love of Disney to his passion for databases, he lived life to its fullest.

Sadly, we lost Gareth last week due to COVID-19.

The data community was so lucky to have him while we did. He was an incredible blessing to those who knew him, and he touched so many of us with his excitement and generosity.

There’s a GoFundMe to help his two children get started on the right foot, and you can watch his memorial service, part 1 and part 2. Gareth’s sister begins speaking at 48 minutes into part 1.

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21 Comments. Leave new

  • Kenneth Igiri
    January 14, 2021 6:11 am

    SO sad. My condolences. Sound very much like a great guy.

  • Beautiful stories.

  • R.I.P. Gareth …

  • Alan Cranfield
    January 14, 2021 9:14 am

    Our paths crossed often at PASS and SQL events. What an amazingly friendly and talented guy. My fellow South African will be missed.

  • I’m so sorry to hear about Gareth.

  • What a tragedy. His poor children. I am so sorry for your loss Brent.

  • camila.henrique
    January 14, 2021 11:11 am

    I’m really sorry to hear that. My condolences on your loss. May his family find comfort in this difficult time.

  • He has a gofundme to help support his children: https://gofund.me/c201f86d

  • Thank you *hugs*

  • Lars Svensson
    January 14, 2021 3:06 pm

    So long old SQL Server warrior. May you rest peacefully in the arms of heaven.

  • I was not prepared for the energy that was Gareth when he did that for us Brent, one of the fondest memories I have came from that day in his pool. (No thanks to Jorge!) No matter how long you knew him, you always were met with that same level of happiness and welcomeness. Rest Well Gareth!

  • Gareth will be in my thoughts and prayers..

  • Michael Prather
    January 15, 2021 8:02 am

    So sorry for you loss Brent

  • Wow….sorry for your lost….

  • Gareth sounds like a special man that spread love to many. It would have been an honor and blessing to know him.

    I am sorry to hear of his passing. You and his family and friends have my sympathy and are in my prayers.

    Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

    May God be with you.

  • Thomas L Duclos
    January 23, 2021 12:05 am

    Brent, Thanks for the posting and truly saddened to hear this news. As most of us have moved on from PW – I will look to reshare with my former colleagues in sales.

  • Vinicio Aizpurua
    January 27, 2021 2:45 pm

    Always remember him at the SQL Saturday events with a big smile. A big loss. Rest in peace

  • Kellie Swanepoel
    February 9, 2021 1:30 am

    Dear Brent we have not met yet, I married Gareth in October 2020 and was only blessed to be married to my hero for two short months. Gareth and I have been friends for over thirty years and sweethearts in our early twenties. We were so grateful to finally be united as husband and wife, our souls had finally come home. Your dedication is exactly what Gary was and is to so many people. I am so honored he chose me to love and I am so humbled by all the love he has received. Thank you so very much from Gary and myself for your kindness. God bless you and I too am very sorry for your loss. Kellie Swanepoel

    • Hi, Kellie. I heard your touching words at Gareth’s memorial ceremony. I’m so happy that you were reunited, and I’m so sad that he was taken from you so quickly. Hugs, and God bless you!


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