You Can’t Take It With You: O Pioneers!

J. Christopher Stevens 1960 to last Tuesday

Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens via Wikicommons.

Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens

The English he taught villagers in the Atlas mountains of Morocco, a democratic Libya that elected its first prime minister the day after his death, universal bipartisan admiration, the grief of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama who missioned him to the place where he would die, Berkeley fraternity-mates in mourning, his parents Jan and Mary, his sister Anne, his brother Thomas, memories of his “unfailing old-world courtesy,”thirty consulate members who evacuated before him–Chris leaves all this behind.

Lt. Col. Woodrow W. Crockett 1918 to five weeks ago Thursday
Woody was an ace. He became the 79th black pilot for the U.S. Army Air Corp, fighting off German jet fighters and homegrown racism (German POWs were allowed to enter the base movie theatre, but “the black soldiers had to sit in the balcony in the back”). He leaves behind an integrated military and a terrible George Lucas film.

William Moggridge  1943 to last Saturday
Moggridge’s invention takes its place alongside Tang and Tupperware as consumer products that made it into space.  His 1979 portable clamshell computer is literally the grandaddy of all laptops.  It defined mobile computing for thirty years (before this guy came along).  He leaves behind the decimated grades of all those students who sit in the back and facebook all the way through History 101.  Without these ubiquitous collegiate laptop, perhaps ‘friend’ would still be just a noun.

Jerome P Horowitz 1919 to three weeks ago Saturday
Horwitz thought himself a failure. His 1964 drug, azidothymidine, looked so promising as a cancer cure, but it failed to do anything but make lab rats nauseous. Twenty years later, AZT (as the drug became known) transformed the AIDS epidemic. It changed perception of HIV from divinely-given death sentence to a treatable disease. Thanks to him, coming out of the eighties those three letters began to trigger not just hysteria but also hope.

Milk Bottles by steveritchie on Flickr.

Sources of milk mustaches everywhere.

Verghese Kurien to 1921 last Sunday
He led the White Revolution without guns. He won the World Food Prize without cooking.  He sextupled India’s milk production. The Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation that he founded gives small dairy farms the distribution infrastructure to compete with large dairies and floods the market, as it were, with milk. He leaves behind the country he took from milk-deficient to largest producer in the world, mustaches and healthy bones.

Tom Sims 1950 to last Wednesday
Dude built the first snowboard. His planks became an unlikely catalyst of democracy, bringing stoked skater kids to the WASP stronghold ski slopes. Bro, can you even imagine a world without Sims and the Double McTwist 1260?

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