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, 14 January 2010

from Jen Linden and Maneesh Sahani

We first met Sam in graduate school at Caltech, where we were all in the Computation and Neural Systems PhD program. We remember: Sam bouncing across the grass of the Caltech campus with his characteristic springy step, full of energy and enthusiasm; Sam explaining difficult concepts to his classmates with incredibly simple, intuitive and amusing analogies; Sam as the life of the party at Sunday brunches at our house; Sam cracking everyone up by answering a question at his brilliant thesis defense with a transparency that said simply, "Yes." (He also had one that said, "No.")

After Caltech, Sam and Maneesh both did postdocs (and shared an office) at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit in London. Memories from that time... Sam always making everyone laugh at the Gatsby tea talks, with his razor-sharp insights and humorous commentaries. Sam joining Maneesh for a surprise visit to Jen and her family in California over the Christmas holiday --- Maneesh called up Sam at 4am to ask him if he was game to buy the airplane tickets, which were available only until midnight (but fortunately midnight EST, not GMT!), and of course, being Sam, he was game! Sam going with us to see a solar eclipse in France, and hanging out on a hillside chatting happily as the sky went from light to dusk to light.

Sam was one of the few close friends we invited to our week-long wedding celebration in England's Lake District; we stayed together with our immediate family and best friends in a huge house, cooked meals together and went on walks together through the beautiful countryside. We will always remember Sam lounging on the huge lawn, entertaining us all with his hilarious stories; Sam hiking up to the peak of a hill and posing with friends for "intrepid explorer" photographs; Sam joking and laughing and splashing Aaron while doing dishes in the big kitchen.

We kept in touch with Sam when he moved on to a faculty position in Toronto. We met Meredith before they were engaged, when they visited London together. We remember going to the zoo with Sam, Meredith, and our then-toddler son Adrian; Sam charged around the zoo with great enthusiasm as always, carrying Adrian on his shoulders, to Adrian's delight. Jen remembers saying to Maneesh that Meredith was perfect for Sam; they were a wonderful match. Their marriage was a joyous event for all of us who knew and loved Sam.

We saw Sam and Meredith several times when they were living in San Francisco, since Jen's family lives nearby. We were so happy for them about Meredith's pregnancy, and so concerned for them when the babies were born extremely premature. Their beautiful twin girls are incredibly lucky to have had Sam and Meredith as their parents; both of them devoted themselves entirely to helping the girls survive those first difficult months in the NICU, and the equally difficult first months at home. Happy memories from this time include receiving a wonderful holiday card from Sam and Meredith, with beautiful pictures of them at last holding the babies at home. We last saw Sam in August 2009, when we had a happy visit with him, Meredith and the babies.

We will always remember: Sam's wonderfully expressive face and voice, conveying surprise or wonder or astonishment while relating yet another hilarious story; Sam's hands, always moving when he talked, illustrating concepts or ideas that would then become as crystal clear to his listeners as they always were to him; Sam's kindness, calling with birthday wishes or consolation at times of personal trouble; and most of all, Sam's vitality, energy, and enthusiasm.

Sam, we love you so much and will always remember you.

Jennifer Linden and Maneesh Sahani


  1. Sam's friendship spanned generations. I met him through my children and his wit, brilliance, kindness, and vibrant personality were always welcome when he visited.
    To Meredith, his girls, his parents,friends,colleagues,-- my deepest sympathy. With thanks for all your past support to our family,Meredith,I send hugs to you now.

  2. Patricia Plante and Mary-Ann Myrant14 January 2010 at 15:45

    As the grand-aunts of Jen's and Maneesh's family,we were privileged to meet and to come to know Sam who joined all of us on a number of holiday occasions here in California. His wit and humor and story-telling added a measure of great good cheer to our gatherings. Additionally, as persons of a certain age, we recognize character when we encounter it, and we knew very early on that Sam was "un homme serieux." There was a depth to the sub-conversations. Sam was a man of decency; Sam was a man of integrity; Sam was a man of courage. Death be not proud.

  3. As Maneesh's housemate while at Caltech, I first got to know Sam as one of the "cool people" who would attend Maneesh's gatherings in our living room. Sam always stood out there as friendly, funny, and insightful.

    The world is a great deal poorer for his loss.