I learned from a colleague today that John Vlissides, of design patterns fame, passed away last Thursday after a long illness.
I met John in 2003 when he was doing design and development on the Architects' Workbench, a Research project that my Global Services group sponsored. I was always impressed by his modesty and generosity, both with his time and his knowledge. I asked him once if he could give me a few pointers on getting started with writing. I was surprised when he said "sure, now's good", more surprised when we ended up talking for an hour, and more surprised yet when he sent an introductory email to his editor at Addison-Wesley.
The last time I saw John was at IBM Research almost exactly two years ago - November 26, 2003 - I remember because it was the day before Thanksgiving in the year that my wife Chunhui was pregnant with our first child. This was before he'd been diagnosed with cancer. I introduced him to Chunhui, who was impressed by the Chinese edition of Design Patterns
sitting on his office bookshelf (later I'd find the same edition sitting in Chunhui's brother's office in China). We had a pleasant conversation; not about software but about parenthood.
Since John's death, a number of friends and colleagues have shared their anecdotes on this wiki page