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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