In Memoriam Joachim Schmitz

  • By Martijn Faassen
  •  • 
  • 2008-05-14
  •  • 
  • Tags: 
  • community

This is a rather unusual blog entry. I sincerely hope I don't have to write blog entries like this very often. I usually write about technology, and the community surrounding it. This community is, of course, composed of people. Yesterday I heard that Joachim Schmitz, long-standing member of the Zope and Python communities, had died suddenly last weekend. He was a regular presence at Zope-related events, and I have met him often. I feel that his passing should not go without notice for people in our community who knew him and met him.

I last saw Joachim just a week before he died, at the Grokkerdam sprint here in Rotterdam. Here is a picture of the sprint, winding down on a Saturday night, with people working and playing. Joachim is in the bottom right corner, looking pensively at the laptop in front of us, while I'm explaining some code to him. It's Joachim as I knew him, in his element, surrounded by fellow enthusiasts.

[2024 update; unfortunately I think we lost the picture during a blog transition years ago. I tried looking for it in the wayback machine to no avail]

I wrote the following message to his friends and family, and I want to share it with everybody. I wrote it for myself, as someone who knew Joachim and will miss him, and also for our community.

I know Joachim as a member of the Zope community. I want to share a little about what Joachim meant to us in the Zope community.

Zope is software. I hear that he talked a lot about Zope in his private life, so you might have heard of it. He talked about it even to people that don't know much about software. I understand this perfectly, as I have the same habit. Zope, to him, like to me, is more than just a boring tool you use in your work to build web applications. It's something you can be passionate about, like a craftsman can be about his tools. It's also a community: people you know, who you work with, and who you like. It's a community of people that have known each other for years.

I remember when I met Joachim for the first time. It was at the International Python Conference in Washington DC, in the United States, in late january in the year 2000. It feels very long ago to me now; so much has happened since then. I sat next to him during some talks about Zope. I think he had come to the conference for the same reason I had: to meet other people who work with Zope. Joachim was friendly, and we started talking to each other.

We didn't know then yet, at this first meeting, that we would see each other again on many occassions afterwards, in the years following. His friends and relatives must have noticed Joachim was frequently away at one Zope related event or another. He wasn't away. It's when he was with us! He became a regular face at Zope-related events. I saw him several times each year following the first meeting. He was there so often and so reliably that we joked with him: you again! you're always there!

It isn't a proper Zope event without Joachim there.

Joachim contributed to our community in many ways. One example is his hard work for several years to make sure that people could sign up and pay for the EuroPython conference, helping to make this conference a success.

I saw Joachim for the last time only a little over a week ago as I write this. He was participating in the Grokkerdam sprint, here in Rotterdam. It was yet another Zope-related event: a proper one, as Joachim was there! I sat together with Joachim for a while, working with him and talking to him. Joachim was always interested, always learning, always participating. We were talking about how to teach Zope a few new tricks, planning for the future... See you next time, we told each other, when he left for home.

A week later he was gone, suddenly. He was one of us, and well-liked. This is why I feel so sad now, knowing he passed away. I'm glad I got to see him that one last time.

We who knew him will miss him. Zope events, and EuroPython, won't be the same without him. We will have to get used to him not being there in person with us. But we will remember him. By thinking of him, he is not entirely lost to us. This way, we will still feel his friendly presence in the future.

Martijn Faassen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Chairman of the Zope Foundation

2024 update

I found myself thinking about Joachim recently. I'm close to his age now when he passed away.

Preserved Comments

These comments had been lost for a long time, but I found them in the Wayback Machine.

Alexander Limi

R.I.P. Joachim Schmitz. You will be missed.

Tarek Ziadé

I sprinted with Joachim a few years ago in Paris, he was a real nice and enthusiast guy. I cannot believe he left us already :(

Rest in peace, Joachim, you will be missed !

Michael Hudson

I'm really saddened by this news. My thoughts are with his friends and family.

Jacob Hallén

Joachim actievly contributed to Europython by letting us use his own Worldpay account and by helping is setting up our web registration to handle the payments. He was also an active participant in the meetings for several years, helping us to form a community around Europython. The greatness of some people is not in leading others, but in giving their support to the crazy people who do the spearheading. The supporters never get the headlines, but what they do is just as important. Joachim did a lot of supporting for a large number of people, never going for the limelight himself.

Stephan Richter

Joachim will be truly missed. I remember the early days of EuroZope where he played an integral role of making it happen.

Paul Boddie

I am very sorry to hear of Joachim's passing. Although I didn't really know him, I recognised him instantly from the picture as a regular presence at the EuroPython conference in previous years. My sympathy goes out to those who knew him better than I did, particularly his family and his friends.

Chris McDonough

I did not know Joachim, but I'm saddened to hear about his passing as a fellow community member; my condolences go out to his family.

holger krekel

I've seen Joachim a number of times and sometimes chatted with him. I am sad to hear that he passed in what seems like a sudden way. Best wishes for him, his family and friends.

Aiste Kesminaite

I'm very sorry that such a nice person has passed away. I have seen him in Zope and Python events often and he was a big help in making EuroPython happen. He will be missed by the whole community.

Martijn Pieters

Words fail me. I've always enjoyed Joachim's company at Python and Zope conferences and sprints, and he'll be missed. My thoughts are with his family and friends

Kamon Ayeva

"He was one of us, and well-liked". That's really true.

I was happy to meet Joachim again, after a few years, at the Grokkerdam sprint, and chatted a bit with him. It was interesting to listen to him talk about his project with Ghana using Zope. Au revoir Joachim, and my condolences to his family.

Alastair Burt

I remember Joachim well from the early days of Zope meetups in Europe. He was always a cheerful and enthusiastic figure. This is sad news.

Dario Lopez-Kästen

These are very sad and unexpected news. My thoughts go to his family and friends.

I knew Joachim from one of the early EuroZope meetings in Berlin and every time I've attended a Zope/Python event, he has been around - like Martinj says, it's not proper if he is not participating. His help to EuroPython has been appreciated and has indeed solved a lot of problems.

I have always seen Joachim as an extremely nice and very cool guy - he's always been quite a bit older than the average Zopista, but still manages to be every bit as eager, enthusiastic and passionate about Zope as the rest of us :-)

People you like always tend to leave a little piece of them with you - the memories and impressions, the laughs... In that sense, I guess Joachim is not really gone - from now on, he is just not going to be as present as he usually is.

Kit Blake

Joachim was a presence. I was always surprised if he wasn't attending one or another Zope/Python event. He really loved the software and its social aspect. With Joachim, as with most who are passionate about development, there was no division between work, community and family. Rest in peace Joachim, you will be remembered.

Maurits van Rees

Truly saddening news. I am happy to have met him at the Grokkerdam sprint.

Maik Ihde

I have met Joachim a couple of times at the annual DZUG Conferences in Germany. He was a really nice person to talk with. Very sad to hear that he passed away so suddenly. My condolences go out to his family and friends.

Viktorija Zaksiene

Joachim was bright nice person. He will be missed by many, he have done so much for all of us. My sincere condolences to the family and friends of Joachim.

Andy Adiwidjaja

I have worked with Joachim in a project and we met regularly at the conferences. I was really shocked when I heard of his death. My condolences to the family and friends

Aroldo Souza-Leite

This is very sad news also for us all in the Rheinland Zope user community. Joachim was a pioneer local activist and was essential in making Zope a true movement in our area, a state of things of which we are proud of today. We are very thankful for having had Joachim as a compagnon. He will continue to be our friend in our thoughts.

Jürgen Osterberg

While walking with sore feet through the sticky halls of Cebit arriving at the DZUG booth you would always, always get a friendly smile, some enlightening words or a funny remark from Joachim. I am very sad.


Henrik Bettermann

I worked with Joachim for 3 years on the West African eUniversity Project (WAeUP). We talked every day up to 3 hours on the phone, we discussed intensively, argued and joked. The result was always an improvement of the WAeUP Portal. It was a symbiotic cooperation! Most important for the project was Joachim's confidence. He never said 'impossible', his motto always was 'Let's try and see!' I'm sure, 99% of young programmers would have given up already after a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile 80000 Nigerian students are using our Student Registration Portal. Here some reactions from our Nigerian partners:

"I can remember our last training in Ghana last year: he talks less, and every thing we proposed to, for him it's possible to implement, and he is always smiling even when his wife was not feeling good he was smiling. We are missing him, may his soul rest in perfect peace. May you get the strength to bear this great lost."

"The death of Mr. Joachim has just reached us here in the University of Benin. On behalf of our Vice Chancellor, and the entire staff of the University of Benin, we want to share with you during this period of grief. ... May the Soul of Joachim and the Souls of all departed rest in Peace Amen."

"What can I say. What a great shock. We are all in great shock here as there was no sign from you that anything was amiss. May his gentle soul rest with the Almighty Father."

"WHAT??????????????????? Joachim? What happened? Just saw this condolence message... Am totally in shock... I almost feel like I know him so well. Am truly sorry. I can only begin to imagine how you feel. Honestly Henrik. Am just sorry. I really don't know what to say. I need to compose myself. I will write again."

"Indeed it is more than a loss for Joachim to leave us at this time but God knows best. The only legacy we can leave in memory of Joachim, is to dedicate this Portal to him and to ensure that it becomes a resounding success to the glory of his name. Thanks."


(WAeUP Germany GbR)

Christian Scholz

I personally cannot remember when I met Joachim the first time but to me it feels like he just was there forever. That he is gone now is hard to realize as I expected to see him at the next EuroPython.

The Zope community will definitely be a different one without Joachim. He will be missed.

Godefroid Chapelle

I first met Joachim more than 6 years ago. We often met at Zope or Python events since then. On May 2nd at Grokkerdam sprint, we shared our last breakfast and passionate discussion about Zope. I feel really sad about him living only in our memories... All my thoughts to his closest family and friends.

Dagmar Ganssauge

Dear all,

I never wrote in a weblog and I do not know the habits, but I am really impressed about the resonance of his dead. It helps.

Thank you so much for the caring wishes. For me it will last for a long time until I really believe that he will never come back.

Best health and an optimitic approach to life as he had for all of you.

Dagmar, his girlfriend (3 years ago I have been with him at the conference in Goeteborg, DK)

Thomas Richter

I know Joachim from some meetings of the DZUG Rheinland and had the very nice experience to program with him in pair session during the Neanderthal Sprint last Year. When I have seen the pictures from the grokkerdam Sprint I have seen him and was thinking what a pitty not to be there and program again with Joachim. And now got the shocking message that he is gone forever. Rest in peace, Joachim, you will be missed !

Oluwafemi Badejo

I was indeed saddened when I heard the news. I never thought Joachim would leave us so soon. The last time I saw Joachim was in March, last yeah during a WAeUP workshop at Cape Coast. Easy going and of very few words....always seeing possibilities in what seems impossible. It's no kidding that the entire Open Source Community would miss him.

May his gentle soul rest in peace. My thoughts to his family and friends.


Oluwafemi (Abj, NG)

Claus-Peter Ganssauge

Joachim was kind of son-in-law for us. He was for years the very best friend and our daughters Dagmar Ganssauge lover. Very frequently he was guest in our home and we liked him like our own son. Some long nights we discussed about God and the whole world and, too, we played "Doppelkopf" and had a lot of fun with him.

We can't forget him and we are very,very sad having lost him for ever.

Claus-Peter Ganssauge

Abba Moussa Issoufou

Sad very sad when I saw the mail from Henrik on this sudden tragedy. I met him about three years ago when he came to Lagos, Nigeria on our way to Benin city. We spend some days to study the Student registration process.. and he was very optimistic that it can be implemented with Zope and python this oriented our search for these two tools. May 2007 we all met in Ghana for the West African e-University Project.. We were all impressed by his determination and energy he has in this project. He has always been available on waeup trac or yahoo messenger to attend all request from Nigeria. We miss you but you will always be in our heart. Any time we type waeup we will remember Joachim, to us you are more than a colleague but a brother . May you rest in perfect peace.