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Mourning the tragic passing of Glenda Vigoreaux, trainer/speaker on CF and more

Note: This blog post is from 2008. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
I'm sorry to break the news, but I've not seen anyone else blog about this. Some of you may have known Glenda Vigoreaux, a widely acclaimed trainer and speaker in the CF and broader Adobe world. Sadly, she was found dead in her Glendale AZ home earlier this week, of unnatural causes.

I'll have more on that in a moment, including more about her surprisingly storied past (entirely unrelated to training and speaking) that may be a surprise to some (it was for me).

But first I'd like to remember her as I knew her.

Glenda, the acclaimed trainer and speaker

Glenda was an Adobe Certified Master Instructor who had taught Adobe/Macromedia technologies starting in 1998, including ColdFusion, Dreamweaver, Captivate, Contribute, Acrobat Connect and Presenter. She was widely praised and received consistently high marks, working for Roundpeg in Arizona (since 2005) and who before that had been on her own as GVX Technology since 1996.

Glenda was an equally lauded and popular conference speaker, winning best speaker honors at Max 2004 and CFUnited 2005 (we tied that year). You can find a podcast of her 2006 talk on CF printing and Reporting as well as her CFUnited bio of that year. You can learn more of her professional history from her LinkedIn page. She was even a speaker on the ColdFusion Meetup in May 2005, when Steven Erat was hosting.

Suicide? Glenda?

The most tragic thing about the news is that her death has been ruled a suicide. I just can't fathom that. Besides the accolades above, anyone who knew her would say that she would seem one of the very last people in the world you could ever expect of being driven to that. In fact, if you look at the about page of her GVX site, you see that she had a clear passion for life, and for others.

Of course, I'd not talked to her in a couple of years, and naturally people's personal lives can often be masked by their public persona. Indeed there was much more to her background than many may have known (I didn't). I learned of her death today in an email from Steve Drucker (for which I'm so grateful). In it, he pointed to a news article (translated from Spanish).

The story reports that her husband found her with a gun at her side, with the "forensic and physical evidence...consistent with a self-inflicted shooting". I didn't know her husband, named there as Paul Hacker.

She came from a famed family, tragically notorious in Puerto Rico

But in that story (and with additional details found in sources mentioned later here), we learn that in fact Glenda came from a background of both notoriety and family tragedy. I never knew that hers was a celebrity family in Puerto Rico. Not only were her father and mother famous there as a TV producer and actress, respectively, but tragically, her father was brutally murdered and her mother convicted of it and jailed for 13 years. Apparently, all this was big news in Puerto Rico.

Indeed, the wikiepedia entry on her mother has even already been updated to reflect Glenda's death, and her death is listed as well in Wikipedia's 2008 deaths page with references to her notable family members, all this just 3 days later as I write. Again, clearly this was significant news to some people.

As further sad testament to the notoriety of all this, the news article above even says her house in Glendale and her family's in PR were both "full of paparazzi" (representing Puerto Rican press, I'd suppose).

I was almost tempted to doubt if we were talking about the same person, since these things all referred to her as Glendaly Vigoreaux Echevarría (the latter being her mother's famed last name). But then I found this memorial page which had that same "Glendaly" name but with happy pictures of her. Yep, that was the Glenda we knew.

A one-time TV star in Puerto Rico

The page goes on to offer still more about her family, their tragedy, and her life. It says that she herself had been a child TV star and later host, comedienne, and singer with her sister Vanesa on Puerto Rican TV shows.

That doesn't surprise me. She was certainly so full of life, which makes this all the more surprising.

R.I.P., Glenda

So today we remember the passing of a member of the CF community, a stellar trainer and speaker, mystified by the asserted cause of her death...while a segment of the celebrity gossip world instead regards it only as another tragedy for a notoriously troubled celebrity family. It just doesn't make sense.

She will be sorely missed.

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Not sure if my initial comment went through, your site offered no feedback if it was moderated or not.
Guess the web swallowed my 1st comment. My first "fast track to coldfusion" was taught by Glenda. She was a very friendly, well spoken and intelligent woman. She'll be missed. Rest in peace.
Wow . . . I didn't know this about her background. I had noticed that she hadn't been slated to speak at this year's CFUnited, as opposed to the pat event and wondered about this. I figured that she must have had prior commitments. So sad . . .
# Posted By Lola LB | 7/19/08 6:48 PM
@Todd, as you now know, no, it's not moderated. There's no feedback but it should just pop up immediately in the list of comments. That's odd that your first post was somehow lost. I've not heard of that happening (of course, they may not bother to tell me. I'll do something to keep a closer eye out. Thanks.)
Wow! What sad news. Glenda was a vibrant, talented woman with a real passion for helping others. She'll be missed.
This is staggering news. Glenda was a wonderful person with a glowing smile and infectious positive attitude. She taught my first hands-on at my first CF conference (DevCon 2001) in Orlando.

She was so full of life and positive energy that it shakes you to the core to think she may have taken her own life. She had that rare gift of leaving everyone she encountered feeling lighter, happier and more confident than before. You had no doubt you could master the material she was about to teach you.

May she be at peace.

I'm absolutely staggered by the news. I had great respect for Glenda, both as a trainer and as a person. She will be sorely missed.
When I read this I felt sad. Glenda was so full of life and always seemed to have a smile on her face. As a speaker she was engaging and ever the professional. She spoke at CFUnited and CFUN many times and spoke at local CFUGs via Connect. She always got great attendee reviews.

Sometimes highly creative people have a dark side too and depression can be very hard to overcome from the inside without help. I don't know if this was the case with Glenda or not. But perhaps her death can be a reminder for me to offer help to friends when they seem down in spirits.

Thanks Charlie for blogging about Glenda.
Her brother Luis is a tv producer an bussiness man here in PR
Her other brother, Roberto, was one time Senator in Puerto Rico
# Posted By HOAM | 7/20/08 8:45 PM
I recall seeing her speak once and this would be tragic news for any human being and of course it is even more arresting when there is some level of familiarity. This is very sad news indeed.
I've had the pleasure of knowing Glenda since 1998, when she became an instructor for Allaire. She was bigger than life - supremely confident with the skills to back it up. She belted out life - and often song - and showed such an unbridled enthusiasm for life. She was generous with praise and expressing her feelings. She was SO in love with Paul, and was so happy to be moving into a warmer climate of Phoenix and away from winters in Chicago.

She told me about her upbringing and the challenges, but it didn't appear to stop her from feeling happiness and sharing it with others. When she had issues with her stomach, she took charge and turned a strict Vegan, never once complaining where we went to eat if it didn't have many options for her. She was a problem solver.

She just emailed me last week, asking about attending MAX in SF and providing services as a hands-on TA.

None of this makes any sense. I suppose it seldom does, but with a woman like her...so vibrant and full of life, it is a tragic loss.

I will miss her.
# Posted By Sue Hove | 7/20/08 10:14 PM
It is very sad news. Her family has gone through a lot and now this. RIP.
# Posted By tat | 7/20/08 11:09 PM
I am puertorican and never forget the day Luis Vigoreaux was murdered, the island was paralized for days. Vigoreaux still a famous family in PR, her brothers one politician and the other a tv personality. I am very sorry that Glendaly life ended that way. Que Dios la acoja en su santo seno.
# Posted By Jany | 7/21/08 7:41 AM
My heart will forever be broken by this news. Glenda to me, was and will always be the one who "raises me up"!

I was fortunate enough to meet Glenda when i was only 8 years old when she became my Big Sister throught the Big Brother /Big Sister organization when she lived in Massachusetts. She was awesome!! I had come from a home where i was not supported by my own family and Glenda became like a mother figure to me. For 2 years she took me to camp and horse back riding. She never missed a visit with me. One of my fondest memories of her is her sitting around the piano and singing at camp surrounded by hundreds of other little girls, yet, i felt so special, as if i was the only one. I can still hear her singing her melodic rendition of "The Rose".

Glenda moved briefly back to Puerto Rico, and was unable to be part of the Big Brother/ Big Sister program. She could have easily forgotten me over the years, but she never did. She always remebered by birthdays/Holidays with a phone call or an Email, and when i told her i was pregnant with my first daughter she flew all the was from Illinois to come to my baby shower to surprise me. What a wonderful soul!

A few years after the birth of my daughter i called to inform her that i was getting married, and she immediately insisted that she fly in to sing at my wedding, and so she did. What an amazing honor. As she sang Josh Grobans "You Raise Me Up" i could see in her eyes that day, she truly was like my mom, raising me up, and giving me away.

Glenda was such as inspiration to my life on many different levels. It was her perseverance and strength that encouraged me to go back to college where i recently completed my masters degree, and even though she wasn't in attendance when i walked in commencement in May, i know without a shadow of a doubt, that if i had asked her to be, she wouldn't have thought twice about jumping on that airplane and sitting in the first row cheering me on!

Glenda, you are my forever love. I am and will continue to be a better women because i have been blessed enough to have you in my life. Soar on angels wings my love.

Your Sister,
Amanda Ruiz
# Posted By Amanda | 7/21/08 8:58 AM
I am stunned by the news this morning. I saw Glenda speak at CFUnited twice and I was amazed at what a great speaker and natural trainer she was. Her infectious enthusiasm and clever wit made her presentations must-see material. On a personal note, she reminded me very much of my late Aunt Paqui - the tone of her voice, her mannerisms, etc. made her a spitting image of her. It must be a cultural trait, but I could swear it was my Aunt Paqui up there teaching CF, so I always felt an affection for Glenda. Even though I've only met her twice, I will miss her very much. May she be at peace.
Thanks for letting the community know about this, Charlie. God, I've known Glenda for so long and considered her not only a colleague but a friend as well. As you pointed out, this really is both shocking and sad - especially for those of us who knew Glenda.

Glenda was a terrific instructor and a great person and she will definitely be missed.
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and am very familiar with Glendaly (that's how we all know her back in the island) and her story. I still remember vividly the day her father, Luis Vigoreaux, was found dead inside his car, the morning of January 17th, 1983. She and her sister Vanessa grew up in front of many, many tv viewers who thought of them as their own daughters. I was very surprised to read about her tragic death because after the tragic passing of her father and subsequent trial which sent her mother to jail for 13 years, she vanished from the public eye in Puerto Rico. Very few people knew about her new career and how well respected she was.
Reading her husband's obituary, I am surprised to see that her two older brothers, Luis (a very well known tv producer and personality) and Roberto (a tv personality and ex-senator), were not mentioned.
Rest in peace, Glendaly.
# Posted By Hazel | 7/21/08 1:57 PM
Thank you for honoring my cousin with this blog entry. It was nice to see someone talking about her work as an adult instead of the sad history of her family. She LOVED her work and absolutely glowed every time she spoke to me about it. It is nice to know she was respected and appreciated in her field. We are all heartbroken to lose her, and feel blessed for the time we had. Thank you again for the kind words.
# Posted By M Echevarria | 7/22/08 12:07 PM
I'm floored - speechless. Paul Hacker just Emailed me a week or so ago telling me the stress of work was too much for Glenda and that she had quit work and because of his failing auto detailing business he needed to find a "real" job to pay the mortgage. . .and now this. . . WOW. . . she was so talented. . .it's a great lose!
# Posted By Paul | 7/22/08 12:12 PM
This is so sad - I grew up watching the Vigoreaux family on TV... her parents, as well as Glenda and her sister Vanessa. So much tragedy in her family and now this - my prayers go to her and her husband. I'm sure her dad is waiting for her with his arms wide opened....
# Posted By Leany Gonzalez | 7/22/08 7:59 PM
I met Glenda when I began consulting for Allaire in 2000. Some members of the consulting team became trainers during this time.

Glenda did an incredible job of training us (what she deemed experts) to become trainers along side her. I think we all learned a great deal from her regardless of the 'experts' label; not only at a technical level, but on a professional level in how to conduct oneself when presenting to an audience.

It was a great week in which some of us had lunch with her and discussed our passions in and out of work. Though I only worked with her directly that week she was the kind of person that made you feel welcome straight away upon our first meeting and always remembered our training class in conversations when I ran into her at various conferences over the years.

Glenda, your footprint in the Allaire, Macromedia, Adobe community will always remain. God speed.
I am just shocked to read of this.... Glenda wrote me an email recently just to check in and say hi and I had yet to respond, which makes me feel AWFUL. I met Glenda in 2006 when I flew to LA to teach a class for roundpeg. It was my first run of that particular class and I was a little nervous. She greeted me with so much enthusiasm and made me feel so comfortable. We hit it off and became friends. She was always so sweet with her encouragement, genuine excitement and friendship. I knew she'd been struggling with sleep and some other health issues for some time. I will miss my friend and mentor terribly.
# Posted By Anastasia McCune | 7/24/08 1:25 AM
I Know Glenda from a Movie that we make in Puerto Rico and from her beloved mother and sister. She was a beautifull woman on inside and outside. We will miss her!!

My condolences to Vanessa, Luis, Paul and Lydia...
# Posted By Josema Hernandez | 7/24/08 12:08 PM
It was always an exciting pleasure to have Glenda at our events. She even was one of the top five in 2006. An excellent speaker. We already missed her presence this year and I know we will carry her memory on. Such an amazing person.
# Posted By Liz Frederick | 7/24/08 4:57 PM
Words cannot express how I feel to learn that a childhood friend has died. I remember seeing Glenda passing by me in school at the Sagrado Corazon. Although she lived a hectic life with Vanessa and her mom and dad she was always sweet and nice to everyone.

I lost contact with her after moving to the United States and I'm in total shock that she is gone and I won't see her until we all meet in heaven.

To: Lydia, Vanessa, Luisito, and Paul. She was a "Class Act", no one can ever replace her. Everyone she ever came in contact will always miss her.
I first met Glenda at an open house at Nortel in Sunrise Florida. We ended up having lunch together and a mutual friend's girlfriend asked us how long we had been dating ( we knew each other for 1/2 hour)> She sang at my wedding traveling from Houston just for that. My sister in law in PR just told me.
I just can't understand why?
My prayers go out to her family and Husband.
God bless Glenda,
Matthew Fearnley
Boston, MA
# Posted By MAtthew Fearnley | 7/24/08 6:55 PM
creci viendo a glenda y vanessa, se conviertieron en mujeres frente a nuestros ojo, y todas las chicas queriamos ser como ellas, pero la vida fue cruel con todos nosotros y nos arrebato a su padre y a ella muy pronto, demasiado temprano, que descansen en paz ambos....
# Posted By aixa mieses | 7/25/08 4:12 PM
My boyfriend told me the news I was in total disbelief. I always knew in the back of my mind that her fathers death would some how hunt her. She loved him so much. She was so talented. I remember watching her on T.V. when I was a child in P.R. I did admire her not only for her many talents but for her assertive and elocuent manners. I think that she came to a time in her life in where nothing matter anymore. Sometimes it is hard to share sorrows or even to look for help, it doesn't matter who you are. I feel so sorry for the desition that she finally took and I know how hard it must have been. I do wonder how her mother feels. What exactly will all this unwrap. Poor child. I hope that God understands and that what ever was in your heart at that moment He will understand and someday take you in His arms.
# Posted By Marilyn Colon | 7/28/08 11:09 PM
How wonderful to see that Glenda was so well respected by her peers in the CF / Adobe industry. I already knew how much we loved her in Puerto Rico's entertainment industry. She was truly an amazing human being and I will never forget her. She will continue to be an inspiration for the rest of my life, and I know many others feel the same way.
# Posted By Jose Angel | 8/10/08 9:03 PM
Yesterday I copied my friend an email I was sending. I wanted to keep her in the loop, like I always did. I had a wonderful interview today, and spoke about Glenda to others, as I often do. When I sent her the email a coworker responded and the devistation followed. I literally gasp and began to sob. My 8 year old son responded immediatly ,crawling onto my lap with hugs and questions. We met in September 2007, our offices were next door to each other, and she knew I was working for a tyrant. She took me into her open arms. We laughed and had in instant connection. In the months that followed she mentored me, helping with my resume, confidence and personal life. She was unhappy with her roundpeg job but her personal life was a dream come true. Plain and simple we were friends. She told me about Paul and how she would run and jump into his loving arms when he picked her up at the airport. The day she got her new puppy we let him run all over the office and down the hall. Then we got in trouble and laughed, my boss was afraid of all dogs, even 5lb puppies. I knew then she couldn't sleep, she sent me an email at 3:00am, awake and working. I'm sure we are all asking ourselves what we could have done. In truth Glenda and I both suffer from anxiety, it is offten accompanied by depression, we can be happy and sad all in one . I was holdng a gun in January 2008 and called for help and help it came, I'm still here. No one knows what the future holds, so tell your friends and everyone else for that matter how special they are and that you love them. It may not stop a desision to take one's life, but they'll take that with them wherever they go.

I'm still crying like a baby this morning, but I'm writting this because Gleanda would want me to be strong and pick myself up. She has sent all of us a valuble message, each of us will interpret it in our own way. This remimds me on the song "Stary Stary Night", this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you. Glenda is at peace with God, she is befriending the newcomers and making everyone feel loved and welcome, her pain is gone. She will remain in our hearts until we see her again.

My son came to me a bedtime and asked if God was mad a Glenda for taking her own life? I held him in my arms and said, Gelenda is and always has been an angel from Heaven, she just went home. God is never angry at us when we want to go home, she is loved.

I love you Glenda
# Posted By Jennifer Watson | 9/12/08 12:29 PM
Ok, folks. I really don't want to be put in the middle of bickering about rumors, so I am going to delete the 2 comments made today and will disable further comments on this entry.

I really didn't set this entry up to be a memorial wall for people from outside the technical community that my blog serves, but the fact that it became one over the past couple of months is both a testament to how big the news was to those who *knew of* Glenda, and a wonderful testimony to the legacy of love and friendship Glenda left behind for those who *knew* her.

Let's leave things at what's been stated to this point, and note as well a couple other links folks have offered to share pictures and other thoughts. Thanks to all who contributed to this point, and again, thanks Glenda for touching us all. You will be missed.

PS If someone reads this and feels some righteous anger at having been denied their chance to speak their mind, please, let that go. There's enough anger in the world. Turn your thoughts instead toward Glenda, and your energy toward your own loved ones. You never know when you may lose them.
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