|Frank Bauregger had a Ph.D. from Stanford, owned a Ford Mustang that could cover the quarter mile in 11 seconds, and was regarded by his engineering colleagues as "technically brilliant."
On Wednesday, May 21, the 38-year-old Mountain View resident took his own life, leaving behind stunned family members, friends and colleagues.
"It's a mystery to me" said his stepmother, Ann McCall Bauregger. "You could drive yourself crazy trying to figure it out."
Bauregger led a solitary life here away from his family in Pennsylvania, but left behind a trail of details about his life; it is apparent that he touched dozens of lives as a student and amateur radio enthusiast at Stanford and an engineer at several Silicon Valley companies.
"He was an extraordinary engineer and a perfect gentleman," wrote Per Enge of Mountain View, on the memorial Web site Legacy.com. "His many friends at Stanford will miss him."
"We spoke frequently about electronics and cars, discussing new concepts for making that extra grid square or wringing a little bit more horsepower," wrote Kevin Hague of San Jose "He was very kind and always willing to help anyone. I will miss him."
Bauregger was 12 when he first realized his passion for amateur radio, said his father, the elder Frank Bauregger. He took the hobby farther than most, often climbing to mountain tops in his truck to compete for distance records, and he even set the world distance record for "47 GHz terrestrial microwave communications."
In 2005, he and a friend set up a home-built radio at the top of Frazier Mountain in Southern California, sending and receiving messages with a colleague 313 kilometers away at the top of Devils Peak in Yosemite.
As an engineer for Agilent Technologies in Santa Clara, Bauregger was working on radio-related technology to be used in the Iraq War, his father said.
Bauregger lived alone, but had a girlfriend in the Philippines he was close to marrying, Ann said.
"He was living life how he wanted to live it," she said.
Bauregger wrote on his Web site that he was born in 1969, "during Woodstock." He served in the Navy in the mid-1990s, working on secret nuclear reactor technology in Washington, D.C. His recent work for Agilent was also classified. His family says he often couldn't talk about what he was doing at work.
Bauregger had always gotten good grades in school, his father said, and got his bachelor's degree from Penn State in 1991. He received his master's from Stanford in 1998 after studying in the Global Positioning System lab, and earned the Ph.D. from Stanford in 2003. He wrote several technical papers, including one titled "Orbital considerations for spacecraft engaged in mutual radio occultations."
He had recently become an automotive enthusiast after buying a 2006 Ford Mustang, nicknamed "Red Fury," which he tuned to produce 525 horsepower. He used it compete in drag racing and called it "the car that changed my life." Members of Northern California Mustang Owners mourned Bauregger's death by writing posts on the group's online forum.
Bauregger had also become an accomplished guitarist after teaching himself how to play. His covers of classic rock songs can be downloaded from his Web site: waas.stanford.edu
Are you receiving Express, our free daily e-mail edition? See a sample and sign-up for Express.