Sci-Fi Champion Bobbie DuFault ‘Had a Helper’s Soul’
Employee Barbara “Bobbie” DuFault is being remembered for her big heart, her passion to help colleagues and customers, and her love of science fiction.
Family was the most important thing to Barbara “Bobbie” DuFault, and she considered most of the people she helped family.
Barbara “Bobbie” DuFault spent more than a decade providing support, writing content, and managing projects in the consumer space.
That was a lengthy list. It included the customers she supported at Microsoft, families struggling with drug and alcohol addiction on the Makah Reservation in Washington State, and the legions of science fiction fans who attended the roughly 150 conventions she helped organize.
“Bobbie had a big heart and could tell when others had a problem,” Jerry Gieseke, her husband, told Microsoft. “She would sit down with them and make them feel like they were the most important thing on this planet to her. That was the thing: they were. Everybody Bobbie met was important, and she had a helper’s soul.”
DuFault, content program manager for Microsoft’s Support for Small Business portal, died in her sleep September 14. She was 55.
DuFault spent more than a decade providing support, writing content, and managing projects in the consumer space. She joined Microsoft in the late 1990s, a path that had started with the release of Publisher 1.0 in 1991 and her realization that Microsoft would own the small office. In 2002, she left her FTE role to raise her family and pursue her career as a technical writer and project manager. She returned in 2012 to work as one of the content project managers for the new Small Business portal.
DuFault had a real passion for customers and for how Microsoft support content and solutions improved the customer experience with Microsoft products, said Erik Lustig, director of business planning and management in Customer Service and Support (CSS). “In my 17 years at the company, I never worked with someone who had more passion about their area of work and influence than Bobbie did for her work. She was always positive, striving to include all perspectives and business needs into the work she did.”
Her big heart also extended to her colleagues, said Lisa Parks, business program manager for SMB Audience. “Bobbie cared about her coworkers and wanted to see them succeed. If she could help them, whether or not it was part of her job, she would.”
She was also “wonderfully unflappable,” Parks added. “In team meetings, when some issue was being discussed, DuFault would confidently pipe up, ‘I can help fix this.'”
Marilisa Vergottini, business program manager in CSS, said DuFault was such a pleasure to work with. “She was calm, knowledgeable, and so passionate about doing the right thing,” Vergottini said. “Proposals for change did not phase her, and when she was presented with a problem, she immediately looked for a viable solution. Her disposition was always sunny and positive, no matter what the circumstances. She was helpful and energetic, and for the short while that I [and my team] had the pleasure of working with her, she was a joy to have in the team and made my job a lot easier.”
Bobbie DuFaultA lover of sci-fi, DuFault was instrumental in bringing the World Science Fiction Convention back to the Northwest for the first time in 50 years.
DuFault was a professional artist, writer, and poet. She loved to do arts and crafts—so much so that she owned a vintage shop where she made and sold handmade jewelry. She was naturally curious and had an insatiable thirst for knowledge. “From ancient cultures to faraway planets, she had fairly extensive knowledge and would have extensive discussions for hours on whatever the topic was,” her husband said. “If she didn’t know the topic, she would let you teach her.”
DuFault loved science fiction and fantasy. In her spare time, she volunteered with nonprofit literary organizations as a speaker and program coordinator both in the United States and abroad. She was on the board of trustees for Reading for the Future, a nonprofit literary organization that promotes the use of science fiction in the classroom to help teachers inspire students. She was serving as cochair of Sasquan, the 2015 World Science Fiction Convention, which will take place in Spokane. She had spent more than a decade trying to bring “Worldcon” back to the Northwest for the first time in 50 years.
Even though DuFault was working in the tech field and loved science and technology of the future, she also looked back to the past. She and her husband owned a small farm on the outskirts of Gold Bar where they raised pigs and fowl, tended a garden, and canned food so that they always had plenty for their family.
Colleagues said DuFault will be deeply missed and never forgotten. “Bobbie was an advocate for the underdog—the small and medium business whose needs weren’t complex like enterprise, or simple like consumer,” said Toby Richards, general manager of Support Engineering. “She was extremely disciplined in understanding the customer and applied a delicate care in the content experience for them. That care translated in how SMBs perceived our online support experience and in how Bobbie’s team will carry forth her memory and passion.”
DuFault is survived by her husband, Jerry Gieseke, and two children.
Like many, I miss her. — Amber Clark