Rob Levin, aka “lilo” Dead at 50 after Hit-and-Run

Rob Levin

Rob Levin, (aka. “lilo,” “somegeek”) died this morning after being involved in a tragic hit-and-run accident while riding his bicycle on the night of September 12th. He had sustained serious head injuries and was in a coma at the Neuro Trauma Intensive Care unit at Ben Taub Hospital in Houston in the days since the accident. Rob is survived by his wife Debbie and 8 year old son Benjamin.

Many of you will know Rob as the Director of the Peer Directed Projects Center, a 502(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of Open Source, Free Software, and peer-directed projects around the world. In addition to handling the administrative duties of running the PDPC, Rob was the head caretaker of the Freenode IRC network, which has long been the center of collaboration for many online communities and projects.

Rob sacrificed a lot to work for PDPC and Freenode. For the past few years, he and his family lived in a trailer park outside of Houston, TX. As the trailer they lived in was nearing the end of its useful life, Rob set up in hopes of raising money to purchase a new home for his family. Unfortunately, some in the Freenode community took offense to this and accused Rob of using network resources for personal gain. What these small brained imbeciles failed to realize is that without Rob, Freenode, as well as countless widely used Open Source projects would not be what they were today, if they still existed at all.

I can’t say that I knew Rob well, but I can say with confidence that he was my friend. In the few conversations we had, he confided in me the fact that his son Benjamin suffers from quite severe ADHD. On this point he and I connected, as I have had to grow up with the trials and tribulations of having ADHD. All I can hope is that some of the advice I gave him about possible treatment for Ben did some good.

Robs wife Debbie has requested donations be sent to the PDPC to keep Freenode going strong, as Rob would have wanted, or given to your local bicycle safety initiative.

You did a great deal for a great many of us Rob, and you will be sorely missed. Rest in peace my friend.

5 thoughts on “Rob Levin, aka “lilo” Dead at 50 after Hit-and-Run”

  1. hi. I probably won’t read this blog again, but. . .

    I’ve heard the rumors that Rob lived in a fancy apartment with a hispanic nanny to raise his son.

    However, despite the fact that the originator of the rumor claimed to have accessed public records, there’s really no way to confirm this.

    So, I don’t particularly believe it.

    can’t believe he’s gone! I’ll miss him!!!!


  2. Please remove the reference about his son’s medical condition. He most likely spoke to you about this in confidence. I for one would be offended if someone discussed my medical condition as publicly in a forum of the internet.

  3. @anon,

    I understand your concern, however, as Rob had discussed the fact that Ben has ADHD in open chat as well as on his personal blog, I feel that there is no reason I should remove the reference.

  4. It is kind of hard to hide ADHD as the personality traits in public are all but apperant. I wished I knew Levin personally. It is sad that a person who put forth ALOT of effort to keep freenode going would live in a trailer. This person deserved better then that. Why he may have been a genious in his own right of creating a great irc open based chat network it was to bad he could not some how have made a decent living at it.

  5. I was a friend of Rob’s for many years; we met in the 1980’s in “science fiction fandom,” a very large community, as many of you will know. I am, if anything, computer-challenged. I always suspected that Rob was a genius; his later achievements confirmed it(he was also very humble).
    His wedding to Debbie in Venice, CA was a joyous and memorable occasion for all of his family and many fan and other friends and co-workers. They were so fond of Rob;we all traded stories of him out of his earshot—everyone had the same glowing opinions of this kind, brilliant, independently-thinking soul.
    The birth of Benjamin confirmed another suspicion about him: he was a great Dad! When he, Deb and Ben moved from Southern California to the San Francisco Bay area, Rob came out in a driving rainstorm to meet us, his fan friends at a restaurant in Berkeley just so we wouldn’t have to drive all the way to Alameda to see him.
    He adored his wife and son and seemed to finally have found happiness.
    After they moved to Texas, we only saw eachother whenever he, Deb and Ben came to California to see Deb’s family….but he always called us so we could all meet.
    Realizing that I had not heard from Rob for awhile I looked him up and found Rob Levin with a date of death.
    Thinking it had to be another Rob Levin I re-searched and
    found a picture that confirmed that our friend was gone after that tragic street accident. It is some comfort to know that, although eyewitnesses could not identify the hit-and-run culprit, they did get Rob immediate emergency care and that he was taken to a state-of-the-art trauma center—- though sadly they could not save him.
    His many fan friends, or”The Fen”—a term he employed, love and miss him. It has been very heartening to read the tributes to him from all his fellow “computer geeks,” a term I use with great admiration and respect.
    As one of them posted in a fine tribute—I hope, dear friend, that you are “hacking the universe!”

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