In memory of James M. Rufer

Purism has lost an important voice. We are deeply saddened to learn that our colleague James M. Rufer has passed away on September 27th, 2018, at the age of 39. He is survived by his loving wife Mary; sons Xander and Paxton; mother-in-law Sylvia; and friends he made outside and inside Purism.

James has been with Purism since its early days, being the very first team member to join and has remained a dedicated, honest, hardworking chap who brought enjoyment to our lives daily.

James meeting with us on his last birthday

Purism is a team of people located in all corners of the world, and those of us who have had the privilege to meet James in person know that his human qualities were a model to us all. James was one of the warmest, pure-hearted and kind people you can find, and had a passion for bringing ethical technology within the reach of the general public. I wish he lived on to see the long-term impact of his efforts on society.

François and James casually chatting

James was the customer’s advocate as director of product, and also the cheerful voice of Purism on social media from 2016 to this day. If you have interacted with Purism on Twitter, Mastodon, Google+, Facebook and other outlets, know that in 99% of cases, you had been discussing with James. He was also the main writer behind the “Frequently Asked Questions” area of our website, and the shift in tone in our social media interactions when he took over in 2016 was largely thanks to him and his humane, down-to-earth approach.

In recent months, James had been deeply involved in defining requirements and improvements to our current and future products.

More importantly, James was not just a close collaborator, he had quickly become a personal friend of mine. We shared the joys, the laughter and the burdens of moving mountains to fulfill our mission as a social purpose corporation taking on the world against all odds.

I and various Purism team members will be travelling to attend James’ memorial service this Saturday.

In honor of James, we hope to engrave his name into the interior of the Librem 5 phone. We are working with his close family to support them in these difficult times. Additionally, we are giving James a special send-off and honoring his wife’s request by having James’ remains sent to space in 2019 for his kids. It will be a farewell for him, and he will return to earth and burn up as a “shooting star”.

Goodbye James, you will be sorely missed.
— Jeff

Many purists join me in mourning him, and some here wanted to add below a personal public statement to this effect.


Mladen Pejaković said:

Farewell James, I’ll miss our meetings and the fun and laugh we had. Rest in peace, dear colleague.

David Seaward said:

I finally got to meet James in person this year after working with him remotely. I had always admired his affability, warmth and respect for people, but was really blown away when I got to experience those qualities from him first-hand. I remember how lucky I felt to get to know such a great guy better. How lucky I felt that there was someone at work so capable of bringing those attributes which are all too often missing in our industry. I wish I could preserve that feeling and that memory in a bottle and leave it here for his children so that they could know what a humble and humane man their father was. I hope his family and friends know how much his colleagues appreciated him.

Everyone in our finance team said:

All is silent with James. Rest in peace, brother. Your colleagues here are dedicated to carrying our shared ideals to the four corners of the globe. A tribute to you and the life you led…

Todd Weaver said:

The universe is less bright without James in it and I will miss him immensely. He was a funny, thoughtful, and caring person who brightened up everything just by being present.

Nicole Færber said:

During a lifetime one meets a lot of people. Some you like to forget instantaneously again, some you are fine to work with but you don’t want them to be around more than necessary, some are good pals for a party, a hangout or a special occasion, some are great to talk to.

And then there are some people who you simply enjoy having around you whenever and wherever, who fill any room with kindness, understanding and empathy, who make you feel welcome, understood and accepted, unconditionally—this is what James was to me.

I had the honor and pleasure to work with James, mostly remote over the Internet, but still his positive energy could always be felt, even through the wires. Just a few weeks ago we finally had the pleasure to meet in person and enjoyed a wonderful time together with the team, which even further increased our bond.

James leaves a big hole in our hearts.
Our thoughts are with his family now, his wife and children.

Farewell James, may peace be with you, we miss you. We will try our best to keep your spirit alive, but it will never be the same without you.

François Téchené a dit:

Thank you James. Thank you for having been such a great colleague, such a nice and bright person. Thank you for having been my friend. I am very proud to have been working with you, for the last three years, on making the world a better place. It feels empty without you. I will sincerely miss you. May you know peace forever.

Zlatan Todorić said:

James and I have been working together for nearly three years, so we had time to become friends. Even though we never met in person, I can say that James was a rare genuinely good, kind-hearted person. His presence in our chats, and his voice in our meetings were soothing to me. He will be dearly missed but he will live through-out our memories of him. His beliefs in a better world will continue to live in me forever. Thank you my friend for having presence in my life and may you watch over us wherever you are now.

Heather Ellsworth said:

James was always a pleasure to work with and had a wonderful way of making his team members around the world laugh. I feel fortunate to have been his teammate and he will always have a fond place in my thoughts. My deepest sympathies go out to the family in this difficult time and may they too find peace in their cherished memories.

Kyle Rankin said:

People in technology have a tendency to solve problems in a way that suits only their own selfish needs. But not James. The word advocate gets overused these days, to the point that it sometimes has lost its meaning. Yet James was a real and true advocate for technology working for everyone, not out of some cynical drive to grow market share, but because that’s where his heart was. He believed that technology should be accessible and intuitive, and he consistently pushed to improve everything we did with that in mind. Those fingerprints are in everything we have made so far. If only we had more people with a heart like James in technology, we would all be much better off.

Chris Lamb said:

Whilst I never had the privilege of meeting James in-person I will not quickly forget the many thoughtful conversations and interactions I had with him. That he appeared to make an immediate impact on everyone who was fortunate enough to have come across him, even through the oft-distancing medium of faceless and impersonal technology, is truly a credit to his character. My deepest sympathies towards his wife and his children.

Theodotos Andreou wrote:

Farewell beloved colleague. Purism will miss you.