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In Memoriam Joachim Schmitz

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.

http://faassen.n--tree.net/grokkerdam_joachim.jpg

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

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