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In Memoriam, Igal Koshevoy (1975-2013)

This is what I said at Igal’s Celebration of Life on April 21, 2013. The entire service was recorded and the link can be found on koshevoy.net, along with other remembrances.

Igal Koshevoy. Photo by K Comandich

Igal Koshevoy. Photo by K Comandich

I think if Igal could be here today, standing where I’m standing, and see all of you . . .

. . . I think he would be TERRIFIED.

But he wouldn’t show that. And he’d deliver whatever he got up here to say with grace and eloquence, because he would have practiced. Igal practiced the things he found important, and the things he found difficult, until it appeared as if they came naturally to him.

Many of you met Igal through some technology-related activity, perhaps one of the conferences or un-conferences he organized, or a software developers’ user group, or as a co-worker. Chances are good that the first thing that impressed you about Igal was that he was very smart.

I met Igal at a Thanksgiving gathering in 2006. The first thing I noticed about him was that he was funny. He must have made some other impression as well, because later I realized I wanted to get to know that guy better.

So, I invited Igal to an annual art and craft showcase. I asked him to join me on Saturday, figuring that he would get board and that I could go back on Sunday to see the rest of the exhibit.

I expect that some of you are chuckling at that. We looked at everything that day. Igal loved art.

Over time, Igal and I saw a lot of art together. Igal would have conversations with some of the artists that were every bit as deep and knowledgeable as his discussions about programming, scaling your web infrastructure, planes, trains . . . you name it.

We went on art walks and Open Studios tours together. I’d drive and Igal would navigate, or we’d walk and at some point Igal would take the map out of my hands. . . . Don’t try that with me if you are not Igal!

He carried a compass, because he was always prepared.

The image of Igal with map and compass sticks with me — he was my navigator and my moral compass through some difficult times.

I think the reason so many of us loved Igal is that Igal cared deeply about people. He was kind and generous, and he was a remarkably good listener. I’m struck by how many of you have said that Igal welcomed you into some group and made it easy for you to join in.

Wherever he was, Igal would notice if someone was in distress, and he’d try to help. That went for the newbie feeling out of place at a user group meeting, as well as for the ragged stranger, new to Portland and lost, who need directions and a few dollars for bus fare.

If someone needed help, Igal would reach out and offer it without reservation. If you were in a group and suddenly realized Igal was missing, you would probably find him nearby, helping someone else.

Igal took joy in his friends’ joys and accomplishments. He’d notice what you were interested in, and shared those interests with enthusiasm. Igal’s enthusiasm was genuine and infectious.

I think if Igal could be here today, standing where I’m standing, and see all of you . . .

. . . I think he’d be delighted to see a community that pulls together and supports each other like this. I think he’d be very happy to see so many of the people he cared so much about, taking care of each other.

I don’t think he’d give himself the credit he deserves for introducing us, or for making that small safe place for so many of us individually, that enabled us to give more of ourselves.

If you’re like me, you have a little backlog of things you wanted to share with Igal next time you saw him. I hope you can honor Igal’s memory by finding someone to share those things with, by continuing to do the things you and Igal loved, and by finding ways to make our community, and our world, better.

I hope that when you remember Igal, you’ll remember that he thought you were pretty nifty. He’d want you to know that.

Open Source Bridge Crowd (Photo by Igal)

Photo by Igal

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