Sam was just larger than life in every respect, and a hero to so many of us. In addition to his brilliant scientific achievements,
what really strikes me most about him is his thoughtfulness, generosity and abundance of life. Sam inspires my faith in humanity when the world sometimes seems like a crazy place.
I first got to know Sam when we were both at Gatsby around 1999-2001. Afterwards Sam, Geoff, Max and I returned to Toronto more or less at the same time, so I was lucky to spend a year and a bit more with him.
I was fortunate to have worked with him on a number of papers and experienced Sam's enthusiasm and energy "behind the scenes". The way he motivated a grad student as myself and infused so much fun and excitement into the work was inspirational and one I aspire towards (never as well) ever since.
As many people have said, Sam has the most generous and selfless spirit. When I was applying for faculty jobs, the whole process seemed so incredibly daunting, so I asked various people for help and advice. Sam wrote me this amazing frequently-answered-questions list, like ten pages or something, detailing every step of the process, and all the little things you should watch out for, how should you pitch your talks, the politics within a department etc etc. It was awesome and really helped cool my worries and boost my self-confidence about being able to handle the whole thing.
I am little bit of a foodie so I have a few food related memories of Sam. Once we were having lunch at the tea room in Gatsby and Sam started applying peanut butter on his bread then slicing pieces of banana onto it to make a sandwich. I thought it was a little disgusting at the time but Sam loved it, saying how bananas have so much potassium and it's good for your brain. I tried it years later and it was great! Another time, we were at his place for brunch (this cool little apartment on the top floor of a converted house) and he made smoothies for people with this handheld blender.I thought "how cool is that!" and a handheld blender is indispensible in my kitchen ever since. Sam was the one who introduced us to chicken escalope at The Onion. I still go there once in a whilefor the chicken escalope on a brown bap. I'm happy to report that it's still as big as ever and enough for lunch and dinner!
Although these aren't really characteristic of him, they are fond little bits of memories I have of him, like the boom of his voice or the way his hands gesticulate, or the way he bounces towards the whiteboard in the midst of a discussion.
Sam, thank you for your warm friendship, I'll miss you.
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.
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