Sam Roweis died unexpectedly on January 12, 2010.

He was a truly wonderful person; a beloved son, husband and father; and a treasured friend and colleague.

This is a place for all of us who were lucky enough to know Sam to share our memories and to help celebrate his life.
If you would like to add an article to this blog please contact Or you may leave a comment on any article. (Comments are moderated: please bear in mind that this is a place to remember Sam and to help celebrate his life.)

There is also an album of photographs for which contributions are welcome. Instructions on how to contribute appear next to album.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

from Yoram Singer

Dear Meredith, Aya, Orli, Shoukry, family, friends, and colleagues. Sam was a stupendous researcher and a remarkable scientist. I would like to focus on Sam the mensch, Sam the man, the spouse, the father, the son, the friend of many people, young and old, the lighthouse to an incredible number of colleagues.

Meredith, Sam loved you with his entire huge heart, often calling you Mer with a sparkle in his eyes. When Dahlia and I first inquired about you, Sam proudly said that you have a Ph.D. in biostatistics. His lofty tone when he answered our questions about you stood in contrast to the humble tone he used when speaking about his own research. Indeed, he was low key when referring to himself, nonetheless, he was also the most animated and colorful researcher I have ever met. Soon after you and Sam settled in the Bay Area, I noticed that Sam often arrived rather late to Google. I had to use my interrogation skills in order to pull out minimal details. Sam disclosed that he had to spend a morning, here and there, with you at a doctor's office. Still, I did not hear a single complaint, and he always had an admiring and compassionate tone when mentioning you. He happily and wholeheartedly adopted your heritage, lighting Hanuka candles with us, celebrating Purim. Dahlia and I jokingly called Sam our honorary Jew. Sam was clearly the man of all religions, accepting and acknowledging any kind of spiritual ritual.

Aya and Orli, Sam was a fantastic father, loving, caring, warm, and a great teacher. You are too little to understand but you have inherited his enthusiasm and joy. Sam's family and friends will be next to you to help you grow into wonderful kids and joyful teens.

Shoukry, we have never met until the sad weekend, but I heard so much about you from Sam. Sam was no doubt your flesh and blood, a young version of your creative spirit. A while ago, Dahlia and I visited Meredith and Sam, and Sam told us a great story about you. You wanted to make a special dish but lacked the right pot for cooking. You thus went to the basement, where you keep all kind of tools, and spent a couple of hours building the perfect pot, rather than going to the store. The pot was then used once or twice... After hearing the story Dahlia and I had a big smile, and I said, "Sam, aren't you pretty much the same? Don't you have a similar mindset when you conduct your own research?". Shoukry, Sam loved you and admired you. How I wish he was less of a perfectionist.

As I wrote, I will leave it to others to write about Sam's brilliance and scientific achievements. Let me tell you a bit more about Sam's huge heart. Months ago, when it was clear that Sam was heading back to academia, Sam, Mark, and I had lunch together at one of Google's cafes. Mark was prickly as he was struggling with his project at Google. I was bitter because my initiatives seemed to reach a dead end. Sam was Sam, all positive. Do not get me wrong. Sam had his own share of frustration at Google. He designed, implemented, and (almost) launched a beautiful project only to see it hit a glass ceiling. During that lunch, I was pointing to all sort of faults and quirks while Sam was able to find a kind and positive angle to any issue I surfaced. Finally, Mark said, "Leave the kid alone, he is a genuine, sincere, goody two-shoes."

Let me finish with a true tale that symbolizes Sam to me. It was Google's "Bike to Work" day. Sam was riding his bike from San Francisco to Mountain View with a bunch of young engineers from Google, quite a feat. I saw Sam in the middle ofthe group of sweaty cyclists at the line to breakfast. I was post run, clean, dry, in long pants and a long sleeve shirt. The youngsters looked at me with a somewhat condescending look. Sam noticed it right away and said with a grin,"Look guys, Yoram likes to bend the rules, he 'Ran to Work'".

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post. Sam's joyful personality was as amazing as his professional accomplishments.