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Gordon French
Mar 20, 2024
In Share Your Memory
Before I knew Frans the world-famous scientist, I knew Frans the man. Catherine and Frans. She’s from France, he’s from the Netherlands. Neighbors and new friends. An interesting couple. Some of my most interesting conversations during the past few years have been with Frans and Catherine. They were curious. They were good listeners. They had hearty laughs. They were smart – very. You discovered their smarts not because they showed them off, but through casual conversation where you would think, "hmm, that’s an interesting insight.” It was later that I read his books. He had the ability to make science accessible. His ideas made sense. It was later that I learned that he introduced language that was part of my vocabulary, like “alpha male.” I’d used the term years ago to describe some of my business colleagues. It was later that I learned of his 750,000 Facebook followers. Wow! Could there be another scientist in the whole world with that many followers? I don’t know what was most impressive about my friend Frans. Was it the accolades and influence? Or was it the unpretentious, curious, kind man who could have regular conversation about life, politics and philosophy with an average guy like me? I do know this. With his death, the Catherine and Frans team died, too. Frans did not accomplish all that stuff alone. He had a brilliant, strong, resilient companion who challenged and prodded and supported. She stole none of the limelight, but she basked in the glow of her man and closest friend. Not only was she his favorite primate, she was his closest colleague, with whom he tested every insight, every discovery and every word in every book. I am sad for his departure and I ache for Catherine’s loss. She has lost two things. She is without him and, also, without the part of her that was him. The world of science will miss “Team Frans and Catherine.” I will miss “Catherine and Frans the Interesting Couple.” But I know Catherine is strong and brilliant and resilient in her own right. I look forward to our next conversation, Catherine. We can reminisce about Frans, yes. I also want to know what you are thinking about the world, too, like always.
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