In the space of maybe 4 days, the world lost 3 great men I admire. All of them scientists, all men, all Americans of African origin.
The first is Seymour Papert – Born in South Africa. I first learned of his revolutionary ideas from Audrey Watters – and my distant tribute to him was reviewing this article that Chris Friend wrote that is a subtle nod to him and coincidentally, poignantly, published immediately after his death. Chris argues for us taking agency over our tools and not letting them program us. A great modern nod to Papert’s legacy
The second is Ahmed Zewail, Egypt’s only Nobel laureate in a science category. I was privileged to have a small personal relationship with him, so I wrote a personal tribute for him on a Al-Fanar (Arab higher ed magazine that translates everything into Arabic – I thought it was better to publish there as it would find more interest).
The third is Dr. Hamed Ellozy, my boss’s husband. This was the toughest loss of all. The loved one of a very loved one…a man whom I also loved. I will always remember how he would joke with any of us on the phone when he called to ask for his wife (our boss). I remember how he always had a smile and a sense of humor. We had him over at our house once with everyone from our department and he was the life of the party. He was one of those really energetic man (which is saying a lot because my boss is a really energetic person too) and he was someone who warned up to others really quickly and could have a long conversation with people he just met for the first time. It was so cute how he teased my boss in social situations. I also remember during the Arab Spring when I called him at home to check on him every few days (because my boss was out of town at the time) and I,remember his witty reactions to a difficult and stressful time. I remember his really great cooking which we had once at their home. And most of all, I remember how my boss talked about him with love. His loss is hard, not mainly because I loved him (though I did), but because my boss did…Sometimes the loss of a loved one’s loved one is the hardest thing because you know you will watch the living person in pain and grief and be helpless in the face of it.
All of these great men leave legacies. And all of their legacies share something in common. They cared about people. Young people. And they cared about listening to them.