By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
January 5, 2006
Douglas H. Bigelow, 49, who for the past decade fought e-mail spam,
computer viruses, identity theft and online pornography as the leader
of security for the world's largest Internet service provider, died of
pancreatic cancer Dec. 24 at his home in Vienna.
Mr. Bigelow, America Online's vice president of operations security,
was hired in 1995 as the company's first employee responsible for
protecting both customer and corporate data. Ten years later, he
managed a department of more than 100 people who defended the network
and its customers against cyber attacks and assisted police and
federal criminal investigations.
"He led the investigation of literally thousands of security issues
every year," said Matt Korn, AOL's executive vice president for
network and data security center operations, who hired Mr. Bigelow.
"Doug would have overseen the security surrounding things like AOL
member databases and password databases. He was a strong force behind
everything from member privacy policies to anti-virus and anti-spyware
protection in our products."
He was also a popular leader, despite the fact that his employees were
often called to work at inconvenient times, such as when a computer
worm was released on Superbowl Sunday a few years ago. For 10 years in
a row, his division reported the highest satisfaction ratings of any
group in the AOL corporate structure, Korn said.
"You'd think, they're dealing with a lot of cruds in the world," Korn
said. "But Doug always had an amazing attitude, always a smile . . .
and his team was happy. He created a great environment."
Mr. Bigelow had been employed in information technology since 1980,
when he went to work for Wesleyan University and helped connect that
school and others to Bitnet, one of the many computer networks that
preceded what is now known as the Internet.
He served for eight years as a volunteer trustee of the nonprofit
Corporation for Research and Educational Networking, which dissolved
three years ago. He wrote a chapter in a book about how universities
could get connected to the Internet, covering not just the technical
requirements but also how to get the money to pay for it.
In those years, when technologists worked collegially to help others
solve sticky problems, Mr. Bigelow was among the tech-savvy in the
academic world who made time for those who needed assistance.
He was born in Manchester, Conn., grew up in nearby Glastonbury and
graduated from Wesleyan. He earned a master's degree from Ohio State
University in computer science in 1980. He worked at Wesleyan until
For the past four years, Mr. Bigelow was often found in the stands at
Flint Hill School of Oakton, watching his daughter, Elaine, play
volleyball, basketball and softball. He was an ardent sailor and in
the last seven years often piloted his sailboat, the Dawn Treader, on
the Chesapeake Bay. He particularly enjoyed Patrick O'Brian's series
of 19th-century British Royal Navy sailing stories.
Besides his daughter, Elaine Bigelow of Vienna, survivors include his
wife of 27 years, Susan Okula of Vienna; a son, David Bigelow of
Vienna; and two sisters.
=A9 2006 The Washington Post Company
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