I read the obituaries in the New York Times nearly every day. Unlike a local paper the Times is geographically agnostic with obits reserved solely for the accomplished. The Times obituaries introduce me to lots of people who weren’t necessarily famous–like Dr. Allan Sandage. He died this past weekend.
Dr. Sandage was an accomplished astronomer who spent the bulk of his adult life trying to ascertain the value of the Hubble constant. This single number allows astronomers to estimate the age of the universe. He was a prolific author with over 500 scholarly papers published under his name.
That’s not why I’m writing this!
What I like best about Allan Sandage is summed up in this one sentence from Times writer Dennis Overbye’s masterfully poignant obituary:
Dr. Sandage was a man of towering passions and many moods, and for years, you weren’t anybody in astronomy if he had not stopped speaking to you.
Wow. I feel sorry he didn’t stick around long enough to read that. He probably would have agreed. It’s a helluva way to be remembered.