Richard Compton

Obituary of Richard Charles Compton

Rick Compton died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack on November 5th 2019, at his home in Portola Valley, CA.

Rick was born in Sydney Australia in 1960. He was the youngest of 3 children in a military family and his early life featured regular moves. His early education was in the USA and then in several Australian locations. He was a keen and successful academic student, played sports passionately if not too successfully and made lifelong friendships.

He attended Sydney University, in the School of Physics and lived at St Pauls College. He worked hard at Uni and entered into college activities enthusiastically. He graduated with first class honours and the University Medal. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Caltech and earned his Ph. D. in electrical engineering. He displayed an expertise in numerical electromagnetics, but also proved to be a wonderful software writer. His Puff microwave CAD program reached 30,0000 people, almost three times the size of the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society. He married his high school sweetheart Annegret while at Caltech.

After Caltech, Rick was appointed as a tenured Associate Professor at Cornell University. During his time in Ithaca, NY, he and his research group conducted pioneering work in the area of advanced wireless networks, publishing over 100 technical papers and he became the recipient of the Presidential Young Investigator Award. He served as a committee member for the Federal Communications Commission which was chartered by Congress to evaluate spectrum options for a new range of satellite and terrestrial broadband wireless services. Rick was also a design consultant for Lutron Electronics where he worked on development of home light product line (RadioRA) which received CES Innovations ’98 Award and was selected as “most innovative product” at CEDIA Expo 97. His three beautiful and intelligent children: Vicki, Douglas, and Caitlin were born during this period.

In 1997, Rick moved from Academia into Free Enterprise, taking a position as a R&D manager for wireless systems at Hewlett Packard. In 1998, the team was acquired by Lucent Technologies and he continued to work with wireless systems focusing on broadband fixed wireless, point-to-multipoint radio access systems. He moved to Sunnyvale, CA with his life partner Katerina (Kat) Hur during this time.

He left Lucent and began working for a wireless data start-up company with Kat. This start-up company later became Monet Mobile Networks, the first wireless carrier in the US to offer commercial 3G services. Rick served at Monet as Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.

After Monet, Rick co-founded DV Wireless Group, a consulting group focused on last mile wireless access technologies and services. He then moved to become Vice President of Engineering and Operations at Atrua Technologies, where he directed all R&D and manufacturing activities for a new fingerprint imaging chip. The company was later acquired by Authentic, which in-turn was acquired by Apple.

Rick subsequently founded another company, Cequint, a developer of software applications for mobile phones. Cequint developed 2 major products, City ID and Name ID. City ID has been preloaded on over 90 million mobile handsets. Cequint was acquired by TNS in 2010.

From 2004 to 2010, Rick was Vice President of Systems Application Engineering at Beceem Communications. At Beceem, he worked on IEEE 802.16 WiMAX compliant MIMO chipset and spent nearly six months in Korea working with Samsung. Beceem was acquired by Broadcom in 2010.

From 2011 until his death, he served as Vice President of Operations for Mobile Products and System Product Engineering for Nvidia's commercial and consumer products, mobile & GPU chips, modems, Shield LTE Tablets, Android TV console, Shield portable gaming device, GeForce and Quadro graphics cards, Tesla high performance compute modules, deep learning training systems and GPU based servers.

Outside work, Rick had so much love for his family, infinite intellectual curiosity, relentless passion for life, and enormous compassion for his friends and those around him. Rick and Kat shared many of the same hobbies and passions. They moved into their dream home in Portola Valley in 2011 and started extensive remodelling projects while preserving the original mid-century design elements and history of the house. They enjoyed dining at some of the top restaurants in the world, especially with his children, family, and friends, hosting classical music dinner parties at their home, attending operas at some of the most renowned opera houses in the world, and more recently, following Formula One with passion.

Rick also enjoyed learning about and setting up latest smart home devices and systems, gardening, working around the house, and doing home improvement projects. He was also an avid reader and maintained an extensive catalogue of books he read and books he wanted to read. Rick was a keen sport spectator, following cricket, Australian and American football codes in addition to motorsport. He also ran in many races around the Bay Area with his friends and family.

Rick was an extremely dedicated father to his children. He encouraged his children to thrive academically and taught them how to excel socially. He dropped everything at the drop of a hat for his children - he meant everything to them. 

Besides being a loving life partner, father, son, brother, and friend, Rick was a very special person. He had a gift to connect with almost everyone he encountered. When Rick entered a room, the energy level rose to 11.  His passion for life and sense of humour were intoxicating and contagious. He had great compassion and truly loved all his friends. Those who knew Rick will never be able to replace the void he has left and those who loved him will miss him dearly forever.

There will be no service. Many of you have asked about sending flowers. Your support is enough. However, if you do want to do something in memory of Rick, in lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to ReSurge International, a cause dear to Rick's heart.  ReSurge is a San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit that provides free life-changing reconstructive surgery to underserved children in developing countries and trains local surgeons to provide surgery and ancillary care for patients with burns, accidental injuries and congenital conditions. To donate to the Rick Compton Memorial Fund, you can click the link below and designate your donation a "Tribute Gift "for Rick  by clicking the box at the bottom of the donation form.