Berkeley High School alumnus Zachary Baggins dies at 20, remembered for humor, quirkiness

Zachary Baggins/Courtesy

Zachary Baggins, a Berkeley High School alumnus and a junior studying computer animation and game design at CSU Chico, died March 14 at the age of 20.

Baggins had a “passion” for computer graphics and programming, according to his friend Emily Reising, who met Baggins their freshman year while living on the same dormitory floor. He wanted to work in video game development, his mother Teddi Baggins said. His passion for programming almost led him to switch majors to computer science, Reising said, as he had already developed an advanced skill set before beginning classes at Chico State.

Zachary Baggins was “sweet and lovely and funny and quirky and he was very curious about all kinds of things,” Teddi Baggins said.

Several subjects captured Zachary Baggins’ interest throughout his life, including science, politics and history, among others. Throughout his schooling, his teachers noticed his work ethic and ability to always give an answer for every question — even if he was not always correct.

During Zachary Baggins’ birth at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, according to Teddi Baggins, complications due to a backward birth and subsequent lack of oxygen caused him to have a difficult time “functioning the way he wanted … to” for the rest of his life, especially in his schooling.

“It’s important that parents emphasize that education maybe isn’t for everyone,” Teddi Baggins said. “That there’s so many paths a child can take, and sometimes it’s hard for kids to see that they can be something different from what they set their minds to.”

Art, including drawing and ceramics, was one of Zachary Baggins’ favorite hobbies, according to Teddi Baggins. He drew a variety of characters — both creatures and humans — including some from video games.

Once Zachary Baggins started talking, Reising said, he would not stop. Whether he was discussing politics, economics, or anything involving video games, he had a wide range of opinions and knowledge.

According to Reising, Zachary Baggins was “extremely eccentric.” He always brought up very interesting conversations and “the most random topics,” Reising said.

“(Zachary Baggins was) one of the most unique people I’ve ever met in my life,” Reising said.

When Reising met Zachary Baggins at Chico State, within a few hours, he asked them out on a date. They said Zachary Baggins showed “bravery” in doing so and “was always a go-getter.”

In his free time, Zachary Baggins enjoyed playing “League of Legends” with friends, according to Reising. Sometimes, while around others, he would unexpectedly erupt into song with an “amazing voice.”

Reising noted that Zachary Baggins would always make sure that everyone could engage in the conversation, and he enjoyed the company of others.

“He was an honest, down-to-earth person who really enjoyed being around others more than being alone,” Reising said.

Contact Henry Tolchard at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @htolchard.