RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – One of the first tech executives I had the pleasure to interview way back in the mid-90s for Spectator Magazine was Bob Pickens, the right-hand man of “Wild Bill” Stealey at Interactive Magic.

I say “pleasure” because Pickens not only knew — and obviously still knows — his stuff but also because he patiently explained to a reporter unfamiliar with the gaming industry many of the ins and outs. And he is just a good guy.

Most, if not all, people who know Bob would say the same thing.

His wife, Debbie, is an executive at the Lucy Daniels Center — so she obviously knows much about children and has a great deal to give.

So it’s no surprise to me that when the Pickens put out the word that they had set up a scholarship to honor the memory of their daughter, Emily, that a lot of people responded even in these tough times.

At a benefit walk on Saturday, people and companies raised more than $125,000. That’s $25,000 more than the goal.

And the bet here is that contributions will continue to roll in. Emily obviously touched a lot of people in her own life — graduate of UNC-Greensboro, employed at Greensboro Opera Company. But her positive attitude even when afflicted with spinal cancer probably impressed people even more. She was among those featured in a Discovery Channel series about Duke Medical Center.

Pickens contacted Local Tech Wire’s Cal Chang Yocum a few weeks back and asked if she could mention in her weekly RTP Beat column the “walk” event. There was absolutely no hesitation on our part.

“The idea is, if we can help them at an early age, then they can perform regularly as youth, adolescents and adults,” Pickens told Cal about the scholarship effort.

I talked with Bob a few months back when he was taking over as chief executive officer of CDV USA, another gaming company. But I was unaware of his daughter’s illness until we talked a bit about what else was going on in his life.

Sometimes when you talk with people and they share something like a child’s illness, you’re left with an empty place in your gut where the stomach used to be.

Bob told Cal that among Emily’s last words were instructions to her parents: “Go do beautiful things.”

They obviously are doing so — with the scholarship and, I suspect, in many other ways as well.

So here’s a tip of the hat to Mr. and Mrs. Pickens and their daughter, Emily, who demonstrated that even in tragedy good can be done — and inspired — in others.

For more information about the event and The Lucy Daniels Center for Early Childhood, visit:

Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire.