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Keith Gaul, Instructional Labs Manager, dies from heart attack

Instructional Labs Manager Keith Gaul died due to a massive heart attack on Aug. 5. The attack occurred four days into his backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevadas, and despite CPR and a flown-in medical team, Gaul passed away.

Gaul began working at Stanford in 1988 and had been a part of the electrical engineering (EE) community since 2000.

“His contribution to the department will be felt for a long time to come,” wrote Chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering, Abbas El Gamal M.S. ’77 Ph.D. ’78, in an email to the EE community. “The loss of a good friend will be felt for much longer.”

During his years at Stanford, Gaul had been recognized as a warm and friendly figure. Mary K. McMahon, department manager, recalled a time when Gaul helped her by planning and leading some visitors on a tour around campus when other faculty were on vacation.

“He corralled a couple of faculty and postdocs to talk about their teaching labs, he contacted one of our staff who speaks fluent Chinese to help on the day of the tour, [and] he worked with the SoE [School of Engineering] PlayLab to get it on the tour,” McMahon wrote in an email to the Daily. “He was willing to help a new supervisor, even when it wasn’t in his job description.”

Because of his passion for his job, Gaul received the Shah Award as the 2013 Staff Member of the Year. Professor of electrical engineering Thomas Lee spoke about Gaul’s high personal standards.

“When he won an award for his amazing service to the department, he was genuinely surprised,” Lee wrote in an email to The Daily. “To him, he was just doing what ought to be done.”

Gregory Kovacs Ph.D. ’90 M.D. ’92, professor of engineering, explained that Gaul managed the hardware and software for Kovacs’ three lab-based classes by both anticipating students’ needs and also working with a kindness and willingness to help.

“He put his service to the department first and was almost apologetic when he took time off,” Kovacs wrote in an email to The Daily. “I think every Stanford EE student in recent years could tell you about some nice thing Keith did for them.”

A visitation will be held on Friday, Aug. 15 at Callaghan Mortuary, and an open house celebration of Gaul’s life will take place at his parents’ house on Saturday.