Remembering Oliver Schmelzle

On Wednesday night my good friend Oliver Schmelzle passed away from a rare blood infection. He was only admitted to hospital earlier this week, and to my knowledge was perfectly healthy before this, so this was very sudden. Oliver was only 38 years old, and leaves behind his wife Lacey and young son Ryder.

Oliver was an uncommon combination of intelligence and genuine niceness. Once every month or two he and I might meet to chat about business, technology, where we grew up (Germany in Oliver’s case), and all manner of interesting stuff. Normally Oliver would suggest meeting for coffee, I’d suggest meeting for beers, and we’d end up going for beers.

Oliver would patiently listen as I bounced my various harebrained ideas off him, and would always give me valuable and insightful feedback. He would often surprise me with his deep understanding of both business and technology.

My wife Janie would sometimes come out with us. At one point Janie was managing a small team of programmers, but her real aspiration was to become a Product Manager, which was Oliver’s role at that time. Oliver was more than happy to answer her questions and provide advice.

In recent weeks I had seen more of Oliver than usual. He had started working at a new company, Vast, and recognized that my company might be able to help them. I had a meeting there on Wednesday, and had hoped to see Oliver there, but his colleagues said he was out sick.

Obviously nobody realized how serious it was at that time, his colleagues expected him to be back in the office in a day or two. We joked that once he got back we would tell Oliver that we’d given up on online advertising and decided to use billboards instead, knowing that he would think this was idiotic. Of course being the nice guy that he is, Oliver wouldn’t have said so, he would have listened to our plan and politely tried to persuade us not to do it.

I will sincerely miss my conversations with Oliver, and the opportunity to work with him. Janie’s and my deepest sympathies are with Lacey and Ryder.

Oliver’s remembrance services will be on October 21st at 5pm at the Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home, Lamar location, and at 11am on October 22nd at Tarrytown United Methodist Church.

update: Oliver’s obituary in the Statesman newspaper is now available here.

update 2: Some other friends and colleagues have written about their memories of Oliver, read them here and here.

16 thoughts on “Remembering Oliver Schmelzle

  1. Ian Stahl

    I worked with Oli at Vignette back in the day. So sorry to hear of his passing. My thoughts go out to Lacey and Ryder. What a loss…

  2. Christine Tusa

    I too worked with Oli at Vignette in 2001. My heart goes out to his loved ones, wife and son. He was a fantastic person and will be deeply missed. So sad.

  3. Olivier Thierry

    Had the pleasure of working with Oliver at Fiveruns. Absolutely stunned and shocked. Deepest sympathies to his family and close friends.

  4. Gordon

    Oliver was one of the most sincere, honorable and decent people it has ever been my pleasure to know. He was also a lot of fun to brainstorm with, often adding the voice of sanity to otherwise out of control discussions. Although lately we only met a few times a year, knowing him, and knowing that he was around, enriched my life. Like all who knew him, my deepest sympathies go to his family.

  5. Thomas P

    Oli and I went to the same school and Uni in Germany. As well as being friends we used to program stuff. I never ceased to be amazed by his insight.

    Somehow he always seemed to know the next big thing long before anyone else but there was never even a hint of hubris. Just a truly generous soul, more than happy to share.

    It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that he’s gone.

  6. stevec

    I’m absolutely crushed to hear this news. I worked with Oliver for three years at Whole Security; he was a great product manager and a fantastic human being. I loved working with him both as a colleague and as a friend. We continued to have lunch every so often even after we had both moved on.

    Oliver was always on my short list of people to talk with when I someday (hope to) start a new company. His ability to look at product ideas and figure out what made sense and what didn’t in the current marked was amazing. I’ll miss him terribly.

    My heart goes out to his family, especially to his wife Lacey and son Ryder. His loss is immeasurable.

  7. Ute Adinolfi

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for posting this info. I was his son’s German teacher at GTHS and saw Oliver every week on and off when he dropped off Ryder for the last couple of years or so. I didn’t know him very well but we always had nice chats. I remember him for always being in good spirits and a loving father. We shared many laughs about Ryder’s antics at the school. My thoughts go out to Lacey and especially Ryder. Ute

  8. Wei Tang

    I am so shocked to get this sad news. I was his colleague at Adometry Inc. I have to say that Oliver is a great person to work with. My thought goes out to his wife and his son. R.I.P.

  9. Pingback: Tribute to Oli | quadhead

  10. ian Post author

    Thomas, I agree with your observation that Oliver lacked any hubris despite his clear intelligence and understanding, well put.

  11. Ulrich B

    This is really shocking.
    We´ve been neighbours and friends in grammar school, and afterwards in the same basketball team.
    He was someone we call in Germany “Überflieger”. Somehow his way ended much to early. My heartful thoughts to his familiy in the U.S. and in Germany.

  12. Nadine Bravo

    I just heard the news through my friend and former co-teacher at GTHS. I am in disbelief and cannot imagine what Ryder and his mother must be going through. Although we met briefly, I always enjoyed the few minutes we talked together when Ryder was dropped off at the German Saturday class. My deepest sympathy to his wife and son… Nadine Bravo

  13. Milan

    This is terrible. I had lunch with him a couple of months back and he was an awesome guy. He struck me as the type that was always happy and always smiling. I dropped him an email and he didn’t respond so I Googled his name and found this page. I feel so sorry for his family. We talked about our kids during lunch and he obviously adored his.


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