InMenlo founder Chris Gulker: Mar. 10, 1951 – Oct. 27, 2010

by Linda Hubbard on October 28, 2010

InMenlo founder Chris Gulker died yesterday evening at his home in Menlo Park of brain cancer. He was 59. A memorial service and celebration of his life will be held on Friday, Nov. 12, at 2:00 pm at Trinity Church in Menlo Park.

Chris was both high tech geek and artist. The tributes to him on his personal website demonstrate the breadth of his pursuits — photographer, writer, pioneer in electronic publishing, product evangelist — and how many people he touched, many of whom he only knew via the blogosphere.

Captured by the photography bug

Initially drawn to science, his interest in photography was sparked by his high school teacher Bill Moos while attending Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, OH. He continued to take photos during his college years at Occidental College, where he graduated in 1974.

He joined the staff of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner as a staff photographer in 1978 and was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize during his tenure there. About his years at the HerEx, Chris wrote:

“When I started at the Herald, it was a news-driven paper, focusing on freeway crashes and house fires. I kept a police and fire scanner in my car and in my house and pretty much worked ’round the clock without needing to be compensated for the extra time, I loved the job so much.

Chris Gulker, press photographer“Later the newspaper hired legendary editor Jim Bellows, who changed the direction of the paper dramatically, aiming more for LA’s upscale audience. He instituted a more magazine like format, which put a premium on photographs taken in a very different style than traditional press photography. I began looking at Rolling Stone and Vogue as inspiration and discovered photographers like Richard Avedon, Herb Ritts and Annie Liebovitz and began trying to emulate their work.

“Style editor Mary Anne Dolan (who later became Managing Editor and then Editor) hired a Chicago ad and editorial photographer named Gus Gregory. It was Gus who taught me studio technique and how to light with strobes. I began taking strobes out with me on assignment, which resulted in my later portfolio and portraits of celebrities like George Burns and Farrah Fawcett.

“Whether in the studio or in the field, I was constantly looking for images. That included whatever happened to catch my eye as I drove around Los Angeles. Some of these images include bales of wire fencing, street scenes in Hollywood and life on skid row. I loved the variety of light that Los Angeles County presented from early June’s deep overcast through the brilliant full sun of summer.”

Involvement with digital imaging and electronic publishing

In 1989, Chris moved to Menlo Park and joined the San Francisco Examiner as picture editor and then as director of media development. His Wikipedia entry explains his contribution to that newspaper:

“Turning the Examiner into a ‘digital laboratory,’ he converted the newspaper from black and white to color by implementing a production system of his own design that used MacIntoshes to do color separations and made The Examiner the first major American daily to switch to full-color production using desktop technology…

“In 1994, Gulker’s editorial workflow system, dubbed the ‘virtual newsroom,’ was demonstrated at both Seybold shows and supported the creation of ‘a real Internet newspaper that used the Net throughout the process from story and photo solicitation to delivery.’ The system provided the publishing infrastructure for The Gate, the online newspaper jointly operated by the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle…”

A blogger before the term was invented

In 1995, Chris started a personal website which he maintained until the final days of his illness. Academics have cited as one of the earliest weblogs — “the first to propose a network of bloggers.” He also helped pioneer two of the most effective means through which blogging emerged as a social medium — the blogroll and link attribution. In the past four years, he chronicled living with cancer and the challenges of reduced mobility with an aplomb and strength that many readers found remarkable and inspirational.

Product evangelist for electronic publishing

Chris joined Apple in 1995 where he oversaw strategic relations for the company’s Design and Publishing Markets groups and served as “electronic publishing guru.” From 1997-2003, he wrote a technology column for London-based newspaper, The Independent. After leaving Apple, he joined the executive team of a number of startups and at the time of his cancer diagnosis was a product manager at Adobe Systems.

For the past 15 months, Chris was once again pounding the pavement as a press photographer, this time for the hyperlocal blog, InMenlo, that he started with his wife, Linda Hubbard Gulker, and friend Scott Loftesness in 2009. It was his portraits of local people, which showed considerable range and diversity, that gained the online magazine much of its following.

Chris was an avid science fiction reader. When William Gibson read on that he was worried he wouldn’t be alive when the author released his next book, the author FedEx’d an advance copy, which his fan sat down and read cover to cover. Author and fan later met when Gibson appeared at Kepler’s book store in Menlo Park.

Chris’s interests also included hiking, cooking and gardening. Earlier this spring he and granddaughter Grace planted a new vegetable garden together.

In addition to his wife Linda and granddaughter Grace, Chris is survived by stepson John Getze and daughter-in-law Julie Getze and an aunt, Theresa Simon.

Those wishing to make a contribution in Chris’s memory can do so either to Western Reserve Academy where a fund is being established in his name — c/o James A. Gundy, Assistant Head of School, Western Reserve Academy, 115 College Street, Hudson, Ohio 44236 — or to the University of California San Francisco, 514 Parnassus Avenue, P.O. Box 45339, San Francisco, CA 94145-0339 for continued brain tumor research.

Black and white photo of Chris with camera by Anne Knudsen


Jim Coffis October 28, 2010 at 8:38 am

My sincere condolences.

Chrisie October 28, 2010 at 10:20 am

A great tribute to a great man. We will miss you, Chris.

Mary October 28, 2010 at 2:08 pm

And I dreamed I was dying
I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly
And I dreamed I was flying
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was crying -American Tune, Paul Simon

Lucy October 28, 2010 at 3:18 pm

We learned from afar about grace and courage, dignity and happiness. This world lost a great person and the angels welcomed one.

Paul To October 28, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Goodbye, Chris.
You will be missed.
Such a gentle man and a good listener.
Even though we only met a couple of times, but you left a mark.
Thank you for sharing your life, and your great vision through your photography.

Jon Merksamer October 28, 2010 at 9:38 pm


I just wanted to extend my heartfelt condolences to you on Chris’s passing. While it was anticipated and thankfully peaceful, the loss is still felt by all who knew him. As a Hospice volunteer over the last four years, I can tell you with some authority that very few individuals face mortality with the courage, equanimity and verve of Chris. He extracted more life in recent years than most do over decades and his calm, measured approach to his disease’s progression will serve as an inspiration to everyone who was fortunate enough to have experienced his blog musings. He was a unique and special individual in college some 40 years ago and continued to remain so until the end.
Unfortunately, I will be out of the country over the next two weeks and will be unable to attend his Memorial. Please know that my thoughts are with you and our family during this sad time.

Jon Merksamer

Bill Moore October 29, 2010 at 7:01 am

My deepest condolences on your loss. Thank you for sharing the details of his sparkling life in this piece. I’ve enjoyed your web site since I discovered it this summer, and it’s evident to me now how it benefited from Chris’ hands, eyes, and heart. He’s an inspiration to hyperlocal bloggers everywhere!

Catharina Bernstrom-Roark October 29, 2010 at 12:12 pm

My sincere condolences
from Cat and the boys (Jason and Erik)

Ross Simons October 29, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Chris was a WRA ’69 classmate who you instantly liked and was a true iconoclast before any of us truly knew the true meaning of the world. I regret not keeping up with him over the years except via Alumni notes. My condolences to the family on the loss of a fine human being and extraordinary talent.

John Saalfield October 29, 2010 at 12:58 pm


Feel blessed that I caught up with Chris at the WRA 40th after 25 years. Godspeed to a kind, gifted, genteel man.

Rick Hays October 29, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Another WRA 1969 classmate sends condolences. I enjoyed catching up with Chris at the reunion last year and at previous reunions. I give thanks to have known him and I am appreciative of his many gifts and his zest for life. May his memory keep you and all who knew him hankering for the joy that surrounds us and is so often overlooked.

Jeff Gaker October 29, 2010 at 3:08 pm

May the twinkle in Chris’s eyes and the undaunted enthusiasm witnessed by his smile and actions be a permanent memory to remind us of his life well lived.

Bruce Deal October 29, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Chris was a terrific human being, and lived a life that had purpose and meaning, but also found the humor in everyday situations. I am really going to miss Chris.

Leah Reid Cryan October 29, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Linda and family,
My condolences at this difficult time. Chris has left a sterling legacy.
He will be missed at every turn.

Ada (Rempen) Endress October 30, 2010 at 11:36 am

Just read about your loss via Barbara C.’ s facebook link. Sending my deepest sympathies for your loss of a clearly wonderful man.
May his love of life and family fill the hole in your heart and help you through this time. My thoughts are with you..
Your old class mate,

Linda Franks October 30, 2010 at 7:10 pm


There are never any perfect words at a time like this. This is just really sad news. My sincere condolences for your loss. I’ll add a heartfelt hug for you.


Sarah Wright November 01, 2010 at 3:35 pm

I am so sad to read of Chris’ passing. My family sends our heartfelt condolences to you.

Sarah & Doug

Michael Wilson November 01, 2010 at 8:17 pm

We knew Chris when he was a tavern owner with Jim Kendall and Corky Peterson which they named Chromo’s Pub. Chris was working for the Herald Examiner in Los Angeles at the same time trying to keep the bar afloat. It was a hangout when Pasadena had 400 artists living in a four block square area. Lots of writers, intellectuals, musicians and artists as well as engineers from Parsons across the street, just a cool hang. We invented and organized the first Doo Dah Parade in Chromo’s. Chris had a special enthusiam which he generated out, we who knew him will never forget. A kind soul with a beautiful zest for life. Peace to you Chris.

Catherine McMillan November 04, 2010 at 8:56 am

Though I only had a chance to meet Chris once, I enjoyed his gentle humor and very much enjoyed his amazing eye, for the beautiful and the mundane, giving us a chance to look at everything again, and better. All my condolences to you, Linda.


Catherine McMillan November 04, 2010 at 9:04 am

Though I only had a chance to meet Chris once last spring, I enjoyed his gentle humor and, over the months reading InMenlo, I became a huge admirer of his remarkable eye, which enticed us to take a second look at the world around us and see it in a new light, wiser, and better. Reading about his life these past few days makes me realize what an exceptional man he was. All my condolences, Linda.


Michael Haering November 05, 2010 at 9:13 pm

My condolences to you Linda and to your and Chris’ family.

And Chris — from our days at the Her-Ex to our nights at Cromo’s and all we enjoyed of journalism and photography and what came afterwards. ‘ Twas good times. Now rest in peace.


Donne Davis November 06, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Linda – When I sat down with you and Chris to talk about the GaGa Sisterhood last August, I had no knowledge of Chris’ photography talents. All I know is that he kept snapping away as we chatted. Now I understand why the photo he took of me is the best photo anyone has ever taken. I’m so grateful to have been on that side of his camera and will always think of him when I look at it.
I am so sorry for your loss. Even in that brief meeting I had a sense that Chris was a man of great depth, compassion and humor.
Please accept my deepest sympathy,

Chris Rivera November 08, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Dear Linda:
I am so saddened to hear of Chris’s passing. Even at the end of his life he showed resilience and a great joy for life and his love of photography. May he rest in peace.
Sending my condolences and a big hug.
Chris Rivera

Anthony Iacoboni April 10, 2011 at 11:50 am

I hadn’t seen Chris since I graduated from Oxy in ’73. But he was always in the back of my mind because of how special he was, and I was reminded of this whenever I came across the photos he took of me and my friends back then. Since I have been in Spain for the last 22 years, I had no idea how he was doing, and when I came across one of his photos the other day I found out on the net that he had passed away in November. I don’t know if it is because when I knew him he looked like James Taylor back then, but what keeps coming back to mind are the words of Taylor’s osng, which related to my feelings about Chris, ‘I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, I’ve seen sunny days I thought would never end, I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought I’d see you again.’

David April 13, 2011 at 11:22 am

Although I did not know Chris personally, but as a fellow photographer, I know he’ll be missed greatly by all whose lives he has touched.

cynthia andrews June 06, 2012 at 1:31 am

I knew Chris from the “Doo Dah Days” that was inspired in Chromos Bar. He took pictures of my then husband, Michael Wilson, for our Wedding Gift. He also took a picture of Michael Peck, holding those huge old cams, filming the parade for the first time. In the photo he had the camera pointed on me, with my small flash camera taking a picture of Michael Wilson and Michael Peck in the background….a real gem…I am so fortunate to have had him take photos that he put in the LA Times of how a person can look good and bad in a photo depending on the selection. How fortunate am I that I have kept these keepsakes all these years. I was thinking of him tonight and thought I would google him only to find out of his passing. My condolences to the family and friends.

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