Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tribute to Dewald Roode


(...and he has been most handy with PhDs too! Photo by Bennett Alexander)

My long-time friend and one of my academic role models, Dewald Roode passed away this morning at 07:00.
In tribute to him I copy an email I sent to him after his second radiation treatment last year, as well as his reply.

Goodbye Dewald. You will be sorely missed. And, as you know, the table you fixed during one mentoring session is still holding up well.

29 Jul 2008
Beste Dewald
Die blomme is 'n plesier. Jou epos het my egter voorgespring, want ek
wou eintlik al gister of eergister vir jou 'n epos gestuur het.
Ek probeer altyd wanneer jy hier is 'n tydjie kry dat ons gesels - en
die twee brekvisse wat ons wel gehad het, was vir my persoonlik baie
goed om te h^e en ek waardeer dit.
Desnieteenstaande was dit vir my interessant dat ons by albei brekvisse
so duidelik RONDOM die sentrale issue gekuier het, en dit is dat jy baie
siek is, en dat jy desnieteenstaande nog steeds afkom om met die
studente te werk. Dit verstaan ek nogal. My eie pa het die Vrydag voor
sy dood op 73 nog 'n groot konsultasie in sy hospitaalbed gehad, omdat
hy nie sy laaste klient wou teleurstel nie.(Ok, dis sekerlik meer
kompleks as dit). Ek was daar om hom by te staan, en ons het almal
geweet een van die redes daarvoor, was dat ek die opvolgwerk sou moes
doen wat op die konsultasie volg.
Nietemin, dit is nie werklik ter sake waaroor ons op die brekvisse
praat of nie praat nie. Wat wel ter sake is, is dat ek een of ander tyd
vir jou moet vertel hoe baie ek jou insette in my lewe waardeer - oor 'n
tydperk wat nou al deur jare strek.
Jy weet dit nie, maar ons kontak is voorafgegaan deur Barry Vorster wat
my laat weet het dat "Oom Dewald" een van die skerpste, en mees
humanistiese mense op die kampus is.. ensovoorts. Eintlik kan ek nie sy
presiese woorde onthou nie, maar die positiewe vibe wat hy daargestel
het, was blywend.
Toe was ons werklike ontmoeting toe jy en Roelf van den Heever my
toegelaat het as 'n "adjunct-member" van die toe-nog-informele "Skool
vir IT. Die res onthou jy so goed soos ek.
Ek sal nooit vergeet hoe ons afgekom het op die feit dat ons dieselfde
voel oor die slottoneel van Amadeus waar Salieri homself verkodig as
"The king of mediocrity"
Dan was daar die hele pret met die stigting van die Skool vir IT en die
launch van die M.IT, en die werk wat ons saam gedoen het met die
navorsingsmetodologiekursus in die MIT.
Ek het destyds jou artikel oorgesit in HTML en dit op die MIT website
gesit by
http://hagar.up.ac.za/catts/mit/research/research.html
Dit bly nou nog 'n toonaangewende vertrekpunt in wanneer ek vir
studente 'n oorsig gee oor waar om te begin met hulle navorsing. Hoe om
te verseker dat hul navorsing "grammatikaal" sin maak.
Maar, die belangrikste vir my, is nie jou akademiese en kulturele
skerpheid nie - die belangrikste is jou humanity - die feit dat jy so
duidelik raaksien wat mense nodig het, en dat jy die vermoe"e het om
hulle daarheen te lei - hetsy as departementshoof, skoolvoorsitter,
studieleier, mentor of vriend.
Ek ding gedurig aan jou, en wens jou baie sterkte toe in hierdie swaar
tyd.
Dit is 'n voorreg om 'n deel van jou netwerk te mag wees!
Groete
Johannes

And his always-upbeat reply:

Beste Johannes

Ek sukkel al lank aan hierdie boodskap. Jy het sulke wonderlike mooi dinge
oor my gesê waarop ek geen antwoord het nie - net baie dankie. Ek waardeer
dit geweldig. Dit bly tog maar die rede waarom 'n akademikus 'n akademikus
is en bly: daardie enkele momente, wat jy op 'n hand of twee kan aftel,
wanneer jy in die oë van 'n student sien dat jy êrens in sy of haar binneste
iets aangeraak het. Seker, hoop 'n mens, is daar baie ander waar dit
ongesiens verbygegaan het, en dit gee verdere vertroosting vir 'n "lewe van
opoffering". Maar die momente waar dit sigbaar is, het so 'n impak dat dit
opmaak vir baie dinge. Wat jy nou oor my te gesê gehad het, tel onder
daardie momente, en ek sê nederig (regtig!) baie dankie daarvoor.

Die tydjie van rus wat ek vir myself ingeruim het, is besig om dividende af
te werp. Ek voel elke dag bietjie beter, en is seker dat ek binnekort weer
volstoom sal kan werk. Nou vat ek dit maar rustig en doen soveel ek kan op
'n dag - nie alles wat MOET gedoen word nie. Dis nogal 'n aanpassing, na 'n
lewe van totale miskenning van tydgrense en tydlimiete - daar is altyd nog
tyd!

Retha sê my dat dit hierdie week Quality Review tyd is. Ek kan glo dat dit
vir almal 'n stresvolle affêre moet wees, en baie sterkte daarmee.

Beste wense, ek hoop ons kan binnekort weer 'n brekfissie inruim. Hierdie
keer behoort jy darem nie te verdwaal nie!

Groetnis

Dewald


9 comments:

Marlon said...

Prof. Roode (Prof. Wisdom to me)was truly a remarkable man who always had an encouraging word to say. He certainly has left his legacy and I know what he has sowed in the lives of thousands will reap a harvest and echo for many years to come. Condolences to the family and friends. May God strengthen you during this time.

elmariev60 said...

Ek het hom die 9de September vir 'n lesing Vanderbijlpark toe en terug huis toe geneem. Tydens ons gesprekke het ek net weereens besef hoe baie sinvolle goed daar is om te doen in die tydjie wat ons hier op aarde is. Prof Roode het dit tot op die laaste voluit gedoen - nie eers 'n swak gesondheid kon hom verhoed om sy "doel" uit te leef nie! 'n Waardige mentor - ek salueer u!

Salome said...

Ek het nie Prof Roode geken nie, maar dit is goed om te sien dat jy die moeite gemaak het om hierdie belangrike persoon in jou lewe lank voor sy afsterwe laat weet het hoe belangrike rol hy in jou lewe speel. Ons vergeet so dikwels om die 'blomme' te gee terwyl mense nog lewe. Duidelik het die groot rol wat jy in jou lewe gespeel het oorgespoel na jou studente Johannes. Die wêreld is armer vir die verlies van 'n man wat duidelik 'n inspirasie vir ander was.

Tuija said...

When I first met Dewald in Kuopio in 2004, he made me immediadly great impression. He must have been the wisest and nicest professor I have ever met.

I am thankful I got to work with this exceptional person.

Eduard said...

Prof. Roode (ek kon nooit eintlik sover kom om "Dewald" te sê nie) het my klasgegee in die jare 1975-77, op RAU. O.a. een van die héél beste klasse --oor Dijkstra se Discipline of Programming-- van my 4 jare op RAU. Na ek later in die VSA gaan swot het het hy 'n rolmodel gebly, en ek probeer steeds sy humor en geduldige gedrag met my eie studente beoefen.

Johannes Cronje said...

Another tribute. This one I received via email from Mikko Korpela

It is with deep sorrow that I have to inform that Prof Dewald Roode, our senior advisor to the Informatics Development for Health in Africa network INDEHELA, passed away in Cape Town on Sunday, 27th September at 7 am after fighting back a severe disease for several years. He was hospitalized on Wednesday.

Last year Dewald was awarded the highest recognition of the AIS, the LEO Award for Exceptional Lifetime Achievement in Information Systems. The award announcement summarizes his exceptional professional life:
http://home.aisnet.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=685

For us in the INDEHELA network, Dewald was always a supportive personal friend and the great-grandfather of all the INDEHELA babies. It was only on Wednesday morning when he wrote about an INDEHELA abstract that was approved to the JAIS Special Issue: "I would love to be involved and your suggestion about what I could do makes a lot of sense. Retha and I discussed this some time ago and I will pick it up where we left off, and will try my best to make a useful contribution."

It is now our duty to pick it up from where Dewald took us. In Information Systems in Africa we are all orphans now.

Mikko

Retha said...

I do not know the right words to explain what Prof Roode has meant to me. He was always firstly interested in me as a person before discussing my academic work. He knew about my family, my husband and children and was always interested in their well being. We shared much sorrow the past few years when my brother-in-law (who he also knew) and he were diagnosed with this dreaded disease in the same week 3 years ago. We discussed the initial shock and then he just continued with his life in a way that I will never be able to do - we even forgot that he was not well. He understood the difficulties I experienced during the last two years of my PhD when I also had to see how my father (who he also knew) slipped away. He was always in a good mood, enjoying his coffee and sometimes being spoiled with Michelle's chocolate cake. I was priviliged to have him at my graduation this year where he introduced my research to all and to then afterwards celebrate with my family and close friends. I was able to tell him how much he meant to me about a month ago when we could see that he became weaker every time we saw him. I could tell him that he was the wisest person ever and that I would strive to follow his example - not that I can ever be that knowledgeable - this gift is only for a few. I did not know on last Wednesday that my bye-bye was so final. He really touched so many lifes.

c.standing said...

I first met Dewald in 1993 at a conference here in Perth, Australia. He was so friendly and easy to talk to and you really felt that you had found a friend for life on the first meeting. We met many times after that at conferences around the world and he always had an encouraging word to say. He acted as a referee for me in job applications and any requests were never any trouble for him.

I remember the good times, for example at ECIS in 1998 at Aix en Provence we had spent a day after the conference sight seeing and then in the evening a group of us ate at a restaurant outside - eating, drinking, chatting and as always with Dewald laughing and having fun.

Before I knew he was ill, I had asked him to write a section for a book I was working on for PhD students and he came up with a marvellous piece. He apologised for taking a few days extra because of his illness.

I know he liked to watch rugby and South Africa in particular and he told me that whenever he watched them play on TV he would wear his scarf and his hat.

I was so sad to read of his passing.

Craig Standing
Joondalup
Western australia

Otto Pretorius said...

Prof Dewald was my study leader during my MCom in Information Sciences 1994. He was amazing at guiding the process to include the aspects of research that I am truly passionate about.

These where the things that where no really appreciated by all thinkers in information sciences at the time including human behaviour, motivation to change, behavioural assement tools and creativity.

He tought me alot about life. Helped me to recover when i made big mistakes in public forums etc.

In short he believed in me. What an awsome man.

You made a lasting impression and difference.

Otto Pretorius
Principle Thought Leader
QBit Group