My Friend Rupert Essinger

46 thoughts on “My Friend Rupert Essinger”

  1. I am sorry to hear of the passing of your friend.

    No I do not have a Rupert, I have a Darlene and a Sifu
    neither of which cut me any slack.

    My prayers are with you guys


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    1. Yes I did know Rupert and I talked to him several times a week about story maps and all things Geo… I shall always think of him With great memories… Rupert you touched us all. .


  2. John, what a beautiful tribute. Your description of him made me sad that I didn’t know him. I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing those tweets that give such a sense of his enthusiasm for life. All the best, Ann Marie

    Ann Marie Gardner 917 544 6718

    On Thu, Jan 24, 2019 at 2:59 PM Adventures In Mapping wrote:

    > John posted: ” I had the distinct privilege (and what I would later > recognize as great fortune) to work closely with Rupert for my first year > or so at Esri, as we collaborated on what would become the Cascade StoryMap > template. I only mention Cascade specifically here ” >


  3. Rupert was always willing to coach, train, and mentor folks here at Esri. He was a great sounding board as I embarked on my less than fantastic Story Maps endeavors and always provided great techniques to tell a better, clearer story. I really think he was focused on all of us creating a quality product even if that meant going back to something we thought was done and tweaking it so as to make it a little better. I will miss his frequent IMs with great examples from the military and military history. I’m honored to have one map in the Gallery thanks to his curation and help.
    Nicely done John. RIP Rupert.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, John, for this touching tribute. Rupert was here at Esri when I started in ’87. He set the bar for me in terms of commitment to everything I did here. His energy, his wit. As our careers separated us, I always perked up when seeing him again, if only at UC. I will miss him dearly.


  5. Shock & sad to hear this news… I came to know Rupert in a holistic test last year. He really went out of his way to help and answer my questions. At the end of the day he came up to me and provided more demos of great inspiring map stories, pointed me to additional valuable materials related to dev — A very good person! Although I only met him once,…I feel compelled to leave a reply here for his tribute…May he rest in peace.


  6. See my earlier tweet @sandsofjura. Sad, very sad and startling news. Rupert and I first communicated about a year ago over an Inuit traditional knowledge story map atlas we had produced @esricanada. When we met in San Diego last year he seemed very surprised to learn there was a New Zealand accent behind my emails, and I was equally surprised to hear the English accent behind his communications!

    A wonderful tribute to a truly nice and inspiring person. I still can’t quite believe it.


  7. Very sad to hear this news. With me working at Esri Canada, Rupert and I would share emails about Canadian story maps that he found. I met him in San Diego this year and we got on like old friends. RIP Rupert


  8. I didn’t know Rupert very well, but from my few interactions with him via email and at the UC he was quite an amazing person. He was so passionate in everything he did and cared so much for other’s success. I owe him so many thanks personally for mine. So here’s to you Rupert, we’re going to miss you immensely. John summed it up perfectly here
    “I’m going to miss the world that used to have a Rupert in it. But I am glad to have experienced a part of it.” Rest in peace, you are missed.


  9. I’m so sorry to hear of Rupert’s passing! We never met in person but we corresponded quite a bit over my Story Map presentation for the Esri conference 2 years ago. He was incredibly generous with his assistance and very insightful. This is a great loss for the GIS community but even more for his loved ones. My prayers for his family and friends!


  10. Sad to read but a nice tribute to a fine man. Thank you for reminder of Rupert’s enthusiasm and friendliness to his colleagues. Bless him.


  11. What a lovely tribute, John. It’s clear that his life, and now his passing, has had a profound impact on so many people. I never met Rupert, but we exchanged a few emails about a Story Map I made. Not only was he complimentary and encouraging, but he asked for feedback about the UI and was very receptive to my opinion. My thoughts are with all who knew and loved him.


  12. Very sad to hear of Rupert’s passing. Before meeting at ESRI UC in 2016, we talked much about how to improve our Story Maps. May he rest in peace


  13. Thank you for this touching tribute to Rupert. It gave me an expanded look into a man I only knew through a few very enjoyable, inquisitive skype calls. The world could use more Ruperts, but, sadly, there was only the one.


  14. Wonderful tribute John to a dear friend. I was so sad to hear about Rupert’s untimely passing. Thanks for including that email. As a Wisconsin native who grew up on a farm, I remember it well. Rupert was always working creatively to push mapping to higher levels. I will miss him. Peace and comfort to all.


  15. John thanks for you beautiful post about our good friend. Rupert took me under his wing when I started at Esri. He used to bring me to different company meetings that I wasn’t invited to if he thought I needed to hear what was being discussed. Turns out, oftentimes he was not invited to the meetings either, but that didn’t stop him and nobody ever questioned him. They all figured if Rupert was there he had a damn good reason. He will be missed.


  16. Thanks for this John. I only got to experience little sparks of what you mentioned here about Rupert, and I’m so grateful I did.


  17. John you have such a way with words. You have captured Rupert’s spirit and all his quirkiness, and all things Rupertisms perfectly. I will miss Rupert very much. We had been working together closely on Story Maps marketing for the last six years. He loved Esri, and our customers, and always went the extra mile for both. As for Rupert’s shocking and early passing, all I can think of is that someone upstairs must have really needed some Story Map Tours and Story Map Journals created right away. Thank you for the touching, sweet, and funny tribute to our dear friend…he would have loved every word, every photo, and every story you shared…but he probably would have reminded you still to improve your meta description and tags, to optimize your Twitter card, and to……..all the things he was a master at.


  18. Thank you for this vibrant and caring description, John. When I caught this post on Twitter today, I stumbled along on a walk to the offices of my consultant team, doing my best to type anything that would make it not be true. I didn’t know Rupert, but I have owed him a debt of gratitude. I published my first story map, a 16 month labor of love that required thousands of miles on my car and hundreds of hours of research outside of my regular job. I submitted it to the now- former process for the gallery. The auto reply said so many submissions came in weekly that I might hear back in 15 days- or never. I was okay with just launching the story and getting it submitted- I was so new at the whole thing, it was enough to just give it a good college try and have the courage to hit “publish”.

    By noon that day, a message came from Rupert. “Strong work,” it said. I was in the gallery. On the home page. This massive effort to promote bison and prairie conservation had legs. And “strong work” was a tremendous compliment coming from him.

    He did do this, from MaJ5422’s reply:

    …”he probably would have reminded you still to improve your meta description and tags, to optimize your Twitter card, and to……..all the things he was a master at.”

    I accomplished the goal of learning Cascade and grew to really love working in it. I brought my experience back to my very large agency to get others to share our untold stories. His encouragement and promotion of my volunteer work helped me to market it to my professional communications group. Now we have in our work plan to create at least 10 a year in our group. I’ve now run a couple of trainings for communicators in our division.

    I see from John’s post why my piece may have caught Rupert’s eye- it was history, science, Americana, stories, and maps. That trim praise is guiding my next volunteer Story Map project. I thought if I did it well enough, I might earn another “strong work” from Rupert when it publishes this year. He must have known from many others how valued he was as a mentor and teacher. But I am sorry that I never messaged him to say how much those two words meant to someone who felt like a nobody launching a paper boat on a big sea. I wish he knew how much he did for ESRI with those words.

    Mostly, I am really sad the world has lost a bright light, a good person, a creator and inspiration and friend to others. If one of you who knew him receives a supernatural visit, please tell him “thank you” from me.


  19. What a touching and spot on tribute of Rupert. – thanks John for putting this together so quickly. Rupert was a true gem and I will miss him dearly. I met Rupert in July 2017 in San Diego and we became fast friends. He asked if I would give him some tennis lessons and in return he showed me all of the great fresh fish restaurants in Pacific Beach and La Jolla. I really enjoyed all the fun things that Rupert and I did together. I really respected all his knowledge about the Esri Story Maps solution. He was such an inspiration for me. Rupert was such a kind and gentle man. I will really miss hearing from my Story Map buddy. I’m at a loss right now and still struggling with believing the news. My friendship with Rupert meant so much to me, my only wish is I had told him that.


  20. Amazing John, you captured Rupert’s spirit so well, made me laugh and cry. I don’t know how many times I set up consults with Rupert for customers and they ALWAYS thanked me afterwards but I always set it up by saying “he might be a bit brutal but in a nice way”.

    RIP Rupert, you are missed!


  21. I am so, so shocked to hear this news about Rupert. I would always make a point of attending Rupert’s Story Map presentations on the floor at the UC in San Diego whenever I was lucky enough to get over from the UK. I just loved his enthusiasm for Story Maps and there was always a big crowd hanging on his every word. Afterwards we would always catch up on news of home.

    He was always my go-to contact for anything Story Map related because I knew he would always have time for my questions. I was just about to email him the URL of my latest effort that he had helped with.

    Truly shocking and extremely sad news.


  22. Very sorry to learn of Rupert’s passing. I met him in England several times through James, his brother, whom I have known since 1987. A lovely, lively man. He will be sadly missed by so many, as your tribute so clearly shows. Our hearts go out to his widow.


  23. Yes, well done, John – capturing his enthusiasm, quirkiness and unique perspective very well. I was in marketing and don’t remember working directly with him, but do recall his fondness for the desert landscapes beyond Redlands, perhaps because they were so different from where he grew up.


  24. Thank you so much, John, for this warm and uplifting tribute to a warm and uplifting man. I knew him quite well as a child, since our parents were good friends. My mother even wanted me to marry him, but we were only 12. That shows how early he was making a deep impression on people around him. He had all those Rupertisms even them. When he moved to the US I thought it was England’s loss and America’s gain – from your tribute, I see I was right.

    I have lived in Sweden for the past 25 years, but by an amazing coincidence, both Rupert and I were back in Leicester this Christmas (it must be the lure of Melton Mowbray pork pies) and I saw him at his mother’s. He hadn’t changed a bit. My husband had written a play to celebrate the centenary of women getting the vote in the UK and we asked the two of them if they wouldn’t mind having a reading of a short extract. All the parts were for women but Rupert launched straight in as a firebrand suffragette leader and read his part like a professional actor who had already rehearsed it. (His mother was great too, so I think it is genetic.) He was so bounding with the joys of life that I can’t believe his life is so abruptly over. His memory will definitely live on with me.


  25. What a great tribute to a truly unique person. I last saw him, not too long ago, coming out of the ESRI cafe. As always, he had that sparkle about him. He will be sorely missed.


  26. Beautifully stated John. I knew Rupert for 32 of the 33+ years I have been at Esri. In those early days at Esri, there were about 10 of us who get get together regularly and his smile and humor was always a great delight. One of his favorite lines to use in these early days when he might be getting a tad bored with someone’s conversation was, “Enough about you, let’s talk about me” with this great grin on his face. I actually stayed with him for 3 nights early in the 90’s when he lived on Henley-on-Thames and he had a a care package in the bedroom that I was staying in that included, water, maps and brochures of things to do. Classy and and fun guy I will miss dearly.


  27. What a beautiful tribute. We knew Rupe here in San Diego as he paddled outrigger canoes with us for a spell, as Coach James stated to us after learning of his passing, “We lost one of the good ones” He will be missed. We are sorry for this loss


  28. I am saddened to hear of Ruperts passing. I was his outrigger paddling coach here in San Diego. I have never meant anyone like Rupert and it’s safe to say I probably never will. He was an individual with humility and grace. His conversations would often flow into uncharted territories with history lessons and dry witted jokes that would reveal themselves on the drive home. One of his many jones that will forever resonate with me was when he told me the true history of Apple iTunes. he said, (British accent) “iTunes is basically a large warehouse full of Chinese guys with thousands of record players. When they get the request to play a song, one of the guys will sprint to that specific record player and play that song.” I must’ve laughed at tis joke ten times over on the drive home. Because Rupert would not laugh at his own jokes, people were often left to imagine what he had just said was a true historical fact.

    I will miss this great human being.



  29. Thank you for sharing your memories of Rupert, John. I work at Esri Canada and Rupert was our go-to guy whenever we had difficult questions about Story Maps. He was always quick to respond and would almost always be the first to alert us to great new story maps from Canada (which made us think he was trolling the web for story maps 24/7). He was so passionate and full of great ideas. We will miss him.


  30. I have no idea why bad things happen to good people. You were a great help to me here at Esri and I am sure everyone who worked with you enjoyed the experience. You will be missed highly. RIP Rupert E.


  31. We had the luxurious luck-sure-he ambled into our yoga studio one fine Saturday morning. It was on the pointy peninsula where land meets water where Rupert & Christen enjoyed their habitat, a great bird in man skin, he flew in and out arms awag, grinning and seamless. Crown Point, Jade Dragon Yoga Shala, San Diego, California, USA. We all lived in walking distance and most mornings, Rupert would be the first one there, waiting outside the building, practicing his dance moves or listening to opera with his ear buds… Charming and quiet and delightful. Rupert was levity and seriousness wrangling with wit and amazement. His innocence was contagious and I often felt clumsy in his presence, yoga cAn be so sure of nothing particular. One and all, loved this peculiar man, Jacques Tati in khakis and quick step shoes. His kindness and genuineness our national treasures.


  32. Very , very sad news . I know Rupert since 1987. He was the first person who help us at our very beginning of Esri activities in France. Very quickly I was very impressed by the talent and creativity of Rupert. I am not sure but I thing that he wasn’t yet established in Redlands, coming to help us directly from UK . I admire is unique caractère , very clever , very friendly , great humour , great human behavior ! During all those years it was always a pleasure to exchange with Rupert . What can I say…. Salut l’Artiste !


  33. Thank you for your beautiful tribute. You really captured the essence of Rupert. My wife and I have known Rupert and Christen since we started paddling outrigger canoes together in 2001 or so, in Santa Barbara. We’ve really valued our friendship over the years and usually stayed with them after the moved to San Diego when we travelled south for our canoe races. Rupert was a truly unique person and I am very sad that I won’t have the opportunity to grow old with him. For the past week, I’ve been replaying little clips of Rupe’s various quips, jokes, attempted jokes, meaningful conversations and laughs that we’ve shared over the years. As you mentioned, it is hard to imagine a Rupert-less world. We do and will miss him.


  34. Rupert left lasting and often hilarious impressions everywhere he went. He was truly loved and cherished. He and I moved into the same apartment building in 1986 in Redlands and who was this guy who made foam core sculptures and that was his furniture!?! I saw above a reference to his love for the American desert. He hiked with a crazy group called Desert Survivors. I joined him one trip in Nevada and we barely survived, running out of water, but the laughs were so abundant. So sorry —- but amazed by the so many people he touched.


  35. I knew Rupert a bit back in the gauzy early days of ESRI in the late ‘80s. You didn’t have to have much contact with him for him to make a big impression. He once convinced me to take an aerobics class with him. I was a fit, trim mid-20s guy, but I was doggin’ it after 5 minutes in that session. Rupert was hopping around like a baby mountain goat for the entire hour in his black tights.

    I remember he and Hugh Keegan being very friendly and constantly cutting up with each other. A total mirth-fest every time I saw them together. It seems that those were some of his gifts– a quick wit and love of life.

    It’s especially sad when the world loses true gems like Rupert.


  36. This is a beautiful tribute. I never met Rupert in person but we talked several times on the phone and he always would send us (Esri Miami office) links for storymaps in Spanish! he gave me great ideas for storymaps and how to get the message across. We will miss him.


  37. Rupert showed me around Little Italy. We had dinner once at Bencotto (it’s on his San Diego Shortlist). A couple of times on Tuesday nights–back in 2011, 2012–I drove from Redlands to San Diego for Shakespeare Society open readings at the Upstart Crow bookstore in Seaport Village. I think the place is closed now. The play was chosen ahead of time and they gave parts to everyone who showed up and we sat around and drank coffee and read Shakespeare. I always took the smallest part I could get. Like two lines would be plenty. And Rupert took the biggest. I see that his friend Catriona says he read like a professional actor, but, really, he was a ham. Of course, he was reading Shakespeare among Californians in shorts and tee shirts at the end of the earth–maybe he thought the context required it. Afterwards, we’d go out and get something to eat and a beer with his friends. (Hi Hans, hi Naz, wherever you are, if you remember me…)

    There was a reading in March 2014 that I didn’t go to–it wasn’t Shakespeare, it was “Read or sing anything you like by anyone.” Rupert said he was singing two pieces from Les Miserables. I said, “I didn’t know you could sing.” He said, “It’s going to be brilliant!” One of the pieces was Valjean’s Soliloquy. I don’t know what the other one was. I thought maybe he was putting me on, except it was Rupert, so of course he could–and would–do it.

    He showed me the Auerbacher house in Redlands, designed by Richard Neutra. I grew up in Redlands, but I’d never heard of it. (Plus, I didn’t know who Richard Neutra was.) He could talk about so many things–architecture, art, design, urban transportation, local history, the Mission Bay marsh. Esri software (not always the safest ground). And Richard III when found him under that parking lot in Leicester.

    Back in 2012 he was excited by the movie The Social Network. He said it had the greatest trailer ever, “with wonderful Radiohead song Creep sung by a Belgian woman’s choir.” I don’t remember if I watched it then, but I watched it last night. It’s at It’s sad and beautiful. I think Rupert took more pleasure in beauty than anyone I know.


  38. Thank you, John, for that beautiful tribute to Rupert.

    My wife, Marla, and I had the pleasure of being next door neighbors to Rupert and Christen on Mission Bay in San Diego. We are so very sorry to learn of his passing. What a unique and fabulous guy.

    I relished the times I would be on our Mission Bay deck and Rupert would be out with his binoculars, describing the various bird species and their movements. He was so very knowledgeable and entertaining in his explanations, whether it be about the ospreys, herons, egrets, clapper rails, etc. Not to mention our discussions of his workout routines, dance lessons and Christen’s hiking aspirations.

    You couldn’t help but smile and laugh with him every time, regardless of topic.

    The world needs more Ruperts.


  39. My husband, Pat Marr, and I first met Rupert at a holiday party with our outrigger canoe club in 1999. Who was this lively fellow with the English accent telling non-stop quips and jokes, including how “America was a great experiment, but now it was time to return under the fold”? Rupert continued to distinguish himself by coming to outrigger practice carrying his gear in a galvanized bucket! It was so practical after all. My novice teammate Christen and he immediately hit it off and soon I was bridesmaid at their wedding.

    Pat and I were relatively new to Santa Barbara we joined Rupert and Christen on many hikes in the front country and backpacking in the back country. Always wearing his contour map in a special holder hanging around his neck, Rupert logged twice the distance as the rest of us because he was always the fastest walker and would walk ahead to the point of almost being out of sight, then turn around and walk back to where we were so he could share another iteration of his latest joke he was working on.

    My husband and I were excited to have these new friends who liked to explore the outdoors and we were so disappointed when they announced they were moving to San Diego, and they moved downtown of all places. But we had two outrigger races a year located in San Diego and got to stay and visit with them twice a year! Every visit included walking tours of new neighborhoods curated by Rupert and dinner at a hip restaurant, preferably one with architectural merit or an interesting interior aesthetic. I remember once in Hillcrest, all four of us laid down on a high hill top corner sidewalk to watch the line of airplanes dropping down right over our heads to land on the runway of the San Diego airport. It felt like we could grab them out of the sky, they were slow low. Our visits were full of non-stop lively and spirited conversation, with lots of humor and fun.

    Rupert and Christen came to Santa Barbara to stay and visit us twice a year for two outrigger canoe races a season, too. They also joined us for central coast camping trips with a big group of friends, and as walking enthusiasts, completed the Pier to Peak Half Marathon and Big Sur Marathon with us.

    Then they moved to Mission Bay at Crown Point into a condo, or a villa as Rupert called it, on the water with an unbelievable view east across the bay of a marshy nature preserve. It was as if we were part of the marsh with the clapper rails talking at night and the extreme tidal fluctuations – a 24/7 living postcard from every window. We now had new neighborhoods and restaurants to explore, and explore them we did!

    Rupert had a big influence on our travels with his excellent advice. On one visit home, he and Christen walked foot paths staying at different pub house inns each evening along the route, exploring the English countryside. Over the years on Rupert’s enthusiastic recommendations, we walked the foot paths of the Cotswalds, the Ridgeway, stayed in Oxford, Bath, and most recently York. And of course we always purchased our Ordinance Survey map for each trip!

    Last year Christen and Rupert moved to Seattle on Bainbridge Island. We were planning our first visit for this June and Rupert already had emailed advice for us on where and what we should check out. We were looking forward to our next walking tours of Bainbridge and Seattle curated by Rupert and Christen.

    Rupert loved walking, one of the many attributes he got from his mother. So I guess it was appropriate that he died while walking.

    Rupert seemed to have it all: a job he loved, a wife he loved, a new place to explore, and a trail of friends from everywhere he went. I never thought about it until now, but he did not have a single “thing” in his home – zero decorative objects or artwork, etc. He clearly derived his joy from the people and the world around him.

    I miss Rupert’s unfailing positive attitude, energy and enthusiasm for the world and the people around him, his joy for life, and his wonderful sense of humor. He was an inspiring friend.


  40. Will Waters (Geography Teacher at Gateway Boys School and Sixth Form College, Leicester, England 1973-2016) says:

    RIP Rupert. A lot of us remember you from your Gateway Boys School, Leicester days, with great affection. Your essay style is readily recalled – that black ink fountain pen hand writing and those sketch maps and illustrations.


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