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Samuel Epstein

9/12/1948 - 12/22/2017
Obituary
Samuel Seth Epstein was born September 12, 1948, in Morristown, New Jersey, and passed away December 22, 2017, in Kirkland, Washington. He was a mathematical linguist, having earned his bachelor's from MIT and his master's from Stanford, both in Mathematics, and his Ph.D. from UCSD in Linguistics. He loved being a father, and in recent years his greatest joy was time spent with his son, Ben.

Sam largely dedicated himself to a life of the mind. He was a researcher at Bell Labs and Bellcore in New Jersey during earlier days of software development, and in the mid-90s followed the state of the art to the Seattle area, where he worked for Asymetrix, Design Intelligence, and Microsoft. More lately he formed his own company, Zalag, to investigate novel applications of natural language in data extraction.

He did not limit himself, though, to his expertise. He was a true aficionado of music, over his lifetime accumulating deep knowledge of classical music. And he had numerous side interests in music, each of which was serious: bebop, Motown, early jazz, classical Indian, African dance hall, blues. He read widely in history, and he was an independent student of world literature.

Sam balanced this rich intellectual life with appreciation for physical health. Through all his years he exercised his body as well as his mind, often doing so outdoors in order to enjoy nature. In his sixties he took up cycling and almost daily rode the steep hills in his neighborhood.

Sam revered family history, and to the end he nurtured an impulse to pass on his heritage and share his rigorous love for life. He was always fair, and he always looked out for his children, supporting their interests and introducing them to different cultures, whose diversity he embraced. He always tried to do the best job possible in everything, and never gave up. Those close to him were privileged to learn from him and catch glimpses of the world through his eyes.

He is survived by his wife, Lana Babayan; his children, Benjamin, Aaron, and Rachel; and his siblings, Ann Brandwein (David), Andrew, and Thomas.

Donations in his memory may be made to the American Civil Liberties Union.
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