My first sight of Dave was at lunchtime in the dining room of International House at the University of California at Berkeley. I had recently moved in and was eager to get to know some of the diverse of group of graduate students - mostly men - who lived there. One of them had taken me for a little hike that morning, and afterwards we stopped to eat in the cafeteria. He obligingly helped me to identify some of the people he knew who were standing in line, waiting to pick up their food. He gave me thumbnail sketches of their outstanding characteristics. When he spotted Dave he said something like, "and there's a really nice kind guy." I looked, and I saw his sweet smile. Somehow I sensed that he was just what I needed. Perhaps I may have really decided it all right then and there. I had had some painful experiences with men who were brilliant and possibly also handsome and charming, but who were highly impressed with themselves and quite indifferent to the suffering they might inflict on the women they attracted - or on the colleagues with whom they competed. One who was primarily known for being outstandingly nice and kind sounded fine.
I'm afraid that I insisted on an introduction. Dave joined us for lunch and the rest is, as they say, history.
Over the years we were together, that initial impression proved justified again and again. Dave certainly subsequently did a lot of exciting, impressive, and useful research in his field. Some of it won prizes. But when people who studied or worked under him or alongside him described him, time and again what they said first was that he was unfailingly considerate and kind, and that he spent considerable effort helping his assistants and his co-workers to achieve success. And that he had a remarkably sweet disposition. That sweetness and his essential dignity never left him, no matter how sick and forgetful and disabled he became.
I count myself a fortunate woman.Back to main page