San Jose: Man Found Dead on I-880 On-Ramp Was Former Tech Executive

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    A man whose body was found Monday near Interstate Highway 880 was a Silicon Valley engineer who helped invent a point of sale machine used at drive-thru restaurants across the county, a former colleague said Thursday.

    Jean-Marc Delbecq, 51, was a longtime top engineer in San Jose for VeriFone, which has sold 10 million POS machines used by customers to swipe debit and credit cards in place of cash, company senior program manager Dan Ross said.

    "Jean-Marc ran a group at VeriFone that developed a lot of POS devices," said Ross, a resident of Los Altos who runs the company's division for POS and touch screen terminals at gas stations.

    Delbecq, Ross and William Johansen, of Auburn, co-invented a payment system with an outdoor terminal they patented in 2007 that enabled patrons to swipe their cards to pay for fast food at drive-thrus, Ross said.

    The men created the device after interviewing employees at quick-serve businesses about what they needed, Ross said.

    What they came up with became a big hit in the fast-food industry, making drive-thru lines go faster and prompting people to spend more than when only cash was accepted, Ross said.

    "McDonald's was a big customer" of the machines as were Wendy's and the company Tricor that had owned Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell, Ross said.

    Delbecq served as a leader in sessions for advancing VeriFone's card payment devices, Ross said.

    "He had pretty strong leadership capability," Ross said. "He definitely managed the team."

    His former colleague was outgoing and always seemed busy with plans for things to do after work and on the weekends, Ross said.

    "He had his land line (phone) in one ear and his cellphone in the other," Ross said.

    Delbecq's sister Adrienne Delbecq-Backos wrote in an email that her brother, who was born in Toledo, Ohio, graduated with a degree in engineering from the University of Toledo and moved to Santa Clara in 1986.

    "Although he had many job offers in the Midwest, as an engineer he was interested in working in the high tech field for his career," Delbecq-Backos said.

    Delbecq had several patents in his name, was a senior engineer and manager at VeriFone for many years and once worked for phone company Motorola, Delbecq-Backos said.

    He took his three kids to music lessons and soccer practice and served as a volunteer soccer coach, she said.

    "As a child he was always fixing things around the house, from malfunctioning televisions to other kids' bicycles," she said.

    At 4:20 p.m. Monday, the California Highway Patrol received a call from the San Jose Fire Department that a person working on a rooftop had seen a body near the on-ramp from The Alameda to northbound I-880.

    The Santa Clara County medical examiner's office, which identified Delbecq's body, concluded he died of a weakened heart condition "due to chronic alcohol abuse."

    Delbecq-Backos said that her brother had been diagnosed with high blood pressure.

    Jean-Marc loved to walk and the place where is body was found is near his San Jose home, Ross said.

    Delbecq had left his job at VeriFone in March but not for a new position and his friends were concerned he may have been drinking to excess, Ross said.

    "I think we were kind of worried about him," Ross said. "We suspected that was going on."