Stephen Toulouse (Stepto) passed away this morning.

We worked together in Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft back a dozen years or so ago, and lived (at the time) in the same small town.

Over the years, we changed jobs, and he moved away. But we still kept in touch, and we still saw each other at conferences.

It was 2016, the first day of DEF CON. My brother Joshua had gone in for routine surgery that morning.

As things were starting in Las Vegas, I got a phone call. Something had gone horribly wrong. Over the course of the day, the doctors attempted to save his life.

The thing is, DEF CON is big. There are tens of thousands of people, and more going on than anyone could possibly try to do or see. But Stepto sat with me at a cafe in Paris, while I waited to find out if the last desperate attempt would work.

It didn’t.

But that wasn’t something he could do anything about. What he could do, and did, was sit with me in the middle of what was literally the busiest week of the year in our field, and give me hope, and a friend to talk to.