ForeverMissed
Tributes
Posted by Taro Sakao on January 13, 2021
I was really shocked to hear that Richard passed away all of a suddedn.

I don't remember exactly when I met him for the first time, but it was during an occasion that some Japanese people, including myself, working on Yohkoh HXT visited Goddard around mid. 1990's. He offered me a ride in his car for lunch and we had some conversation during the drive. It is my good memory as he had already been familiar to me by that time. I had seen his name in many of the data analysis programs for Yohkoh (in particular, UTPLOT IDL program) and, of course, his famous papers on super-hot plasmas in solar flares. After then, he came to ISAS several times and we occasionally went out for lunch, this time on foot. One day when we were walking together, he warned me to walk another sidewalk running just close to and in parallel to the one I was walking along. I was walking along a trail for bicycles. He wanted to follow the trail for pedestrians no matter how the two trails look identical (and even though no one else was there). I was a bit surprised to hear this as people, I mean Japanese people, usually pay no attention to whichever trail they walk along. But since then, until now, I continue to try to walk the trail for pedestrians recalling Richard.

When I visited Goddard in 1998 for about 2 months, he kindly arranged an apartment room for me. Thanks to his arrangement, every paperwork stuff for the contract went very smoothly except that when I arrived the apartment in the afernoon, the apartment office was already closed and I was not able to receive my room key. I make a phone call to Richard and, although I don't remember what he did, I was able to get into my room after all. I was fortunate enough that he was able to come to the apartment to help me.

While I stayed in Goddard, I was in a room for SoHO data analysis (EAF; Experiment Analysis Facility) and Richard was also there close by. We had enjoyable conversations from time to time both on solar and non-solar topics. One day he told me a story of earning money by resaling something purchased at a Yaohan US store in the west coast (I think it is no longer present) - obviously this had nothing to do with solar physics, but it was fun.

Later, in 2015, I participated in a RHESSI meeting hosted by NJIT just for one day. In the morning, in the breakfast corner of the hotel I was staying, I happened to see Richard. It was a pleasant surprise as I didn't know he was there. We walked together to NJIT. I was quite fortunate again since I had no idea by then how to get to the meeting site (!).

He was always, yes always, very kind to me. It is totally unbelievable that I can no longer see him. But my pleasant memories of him will never fade away. It is no doubt that he will be remembered by the high-energy solar physics community around the world.
Posted by Nicole Vilmer on January 12, 2021
Richard was my "American Friend" as my children used to say. We first met when I arrived as a young PhD student at the Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley. I was sharing his office for one year and I still remember his happyness when he came back from the successful HIREGS launch in June 1981. For forty years after this first meeting, we regularly met, had dinner in the US, Europe, at my home, while working on the SMM/HXRBS data, then on the RHESSI mission and finally on STIX. Richard was more than an excellent colleague for me, he really became a friend. I got used to his character and his jokes on my French accent and habits.I am very sad that he left us so soon and unexpectedly.
Posted by Lindsay Glesener on January 11, 2021
I must have met Richard for the first time in 2008 or 2009. We have at least one thing in common - we were both graduate students of Bob Lin at the Space Science Lab at UC Berkeley. However, our PhDs were almost 30 years apart - Richard must have graduated when I was just a little kid. When assisting with organization for Bob Lin's 70th birthday party, I remember asking Richard if he was a student of Bob's. He replied that he was "Student Zero," meaning, the first! Throughout the years I learned a ton from Richard - about analyzing solar flare spectra, about software practices, and also about good food and how to find the best restaurants. I really enjoyed our friendship, and I am immensely grateful for how much I learned from him. It took me awhile to realize that often Richard would not directly answer a question I asked him. Instead, he would engage me in a conversation about the topic that went on for awhile, and when the conversation was over I would realize that I now knew the answer, and also knew a whole bunch of other stuff that I hadn't known before. I'm really sad that he's gone, and I will miss him.
Posted by James Ryan on January 11, 2021
I had the pleasure and opportunity to know Richard for decades. I soon got through his man-of-few-words veneer, I found a gentle man.  He was smart, accomplished, for sure, but he willingly helped everyone who asked. One of those was me, of course. It is a pity he is gone, we will miss him.
Posted by Louise Harra on January 8, 2021
Richard was a work colleague. I met Richard just after I finished my PhD, and moved from N. Ireland to work in Japan for the Yohkoh spacecraft. Richard visited regularly then, and was always there with a witty comment, cheeky smile, and enjoyed all the countries he visited. He was kind to all underneath his humour! We will miss that so much. I last saw him a couple of years ago in DC when he joined us in an Irish pub to watch a rugby match - his first experience I believe. He was always happy to experience new things, and meet new people. Very much missed. x
Posted by Wei Liu on January 4, 2021
I first met Richard at the first RHESSI workshop in Berkeley in October 2002. Back then I was a graduate student struggling with the intricacies of RHESSI data analysis software. Richard helped in great deal getting up to speed on this, which paved the way to my dissertation work. I was fortunate to use more of his help during my postdoc at Goddard (2007-2009). As many have shared, behind his seemingly sarcastic tone, there is a warm-hearted man willing to offer a helping hand at any time. His jokes at every RHESSI lunch, his love for food, and his interesting personality will live in our memory.
Posted by Chris St. Cyr on January 4, 2021

Richard and I met as postdocs at NASA-Goddard in the mid-1980s,
where we were operating telescopes on the Solar Max (SMM) spacecraft.
He was a fierce competitor in sports, and we spent much time together
on volleyball and tennis courts. For many years he has been the go-to-guy for
analysis software for high-energy solar observations, and he was known
for his expertise internationally. At times Richard could be disarmingly candid,
contrary, and exasperating, which is probably why I considered him a good friend. RIP
Posted by Weiqun Gan on January 4, 2021
In October, 2019, Richard was invited to visit PMO, where Dr. Yang Su and I myself made a contract with him on the data software related to the HXI/ASO-S. The contract covers two years initially, i.e., by the end of 2021. I was very shocked when I heard this sad news from Brian on Dec. 18. It is really a great loss for all of us, the community of high energy solar physics. I still remember to meet him at Goddard in 1999 when I visited there for 1 month....I reminisce him
Posted by Natasha Jeffrey on January 2, 2021
During my PhD, I spent 4 months working at NASA Goddard and I remember Richard very fondly from my time at Goddard. Richard was the life and soul of the office and he always organised the office lunch outing on Thursdays at that time. My time at Goddard would not have been the same without Richard’s help, his intelligence and of course his wonderful sense of humour and quick wit. I will greatly miss seeing Richard at RHESSI workshops and my thoughts are with his family at this sad time.
Posted by Rebecca Erwin Spencer on January 2, 2021
Dear Carol, My profound condolences to you and your family. I grew up with Richard as a fourth "brother" to the Erwin family.  He and Bob were thick as thieves.  They loved going to baseball and football games together. They were both adventurous and thought nothing of traveling to downtown Cleveland by themselves in the 70's.  They met at Oakville and continued their friendship into high school. When I moved to California, I reached out to Richard who was living in Berkeley at the time. He was helpful and kind. I'm glad he and Bob reconnected through Facebook before Bob passed away. I also enjoyed Richard's posts and his travels. He will be missed. 
Posted by Gerald Share on January 1, 2021
I will miss Richard. For the past 15 years, I had the good fortune of working weekly in an adjoining office to Richard’s and Kim’s. It was a stimulating experience and enabled us to develop techniques to study nuclear and high-energy gamma-ray emission from RHESSI, Fermi, and the SMM. As the door to their office was mostly open, I could often hear their dynamic and stimulating discussions mostly about the work that they shared. They complemented each other and were very productive. Richard could be intimidating, but I always felt a strong kinship with him and recognized the caring spirit within. I loved our discussions about sports:, his dear Cleveland baseball team and the Nationals. It was a welcome break from the science we did. Goodbye Richard.
Posted by Liz Caney on January 1, 2021
I remember last January 1st (2020) I was taking the train from Amsterdam to The Hague and Richard and I chatted through FB Messenger the whole time. He told me what he had cooked for the holidays with his family and sent through pictures of the food detailing all the ingredients. He also shared historical facts about many of the cities in Europe I visited when I moved there. He was a walking encyclopedia of WWII knowledge and when he was in Berlin he insisted we visit one of last standing Flak towers, which ended up being one of my favorite places in Berlin. I usually had some information on the history of a place, but Richard always knew the most fascinating bits you never read about. That was Richard, nonchalantly dropping extraordinary bits of knowledge in between sending pictures of brisket and gefilte fish. I will miss our unique friendship. I know his loss is felt by so many who knew him. His Sending my deepest sympathies to his family.
Posted by Sarah Gibson on January 1, 2021
I knew Richard starting in the '90s, from conferences and later when I worked at NASA Goddard. When I was still a grad student, I visited him in Paris with my friend Norma (I forget why Richard had an apartment in Paris at that point?) and he made us dinner. He was a generous man with a great sense of humor. My husband Mark (who also worked at Goddard in the mid '90s) remembers how Richard would take orders for Peet's coffee whenever he went to the Bay Area. He will be missed.
Posted by David Alexander on December 31, 2020
So sorry to hear this news. Richard was my host when I first visited Goddard as a young scientist from Scotland in 1990. I was warned by many people ahead of time that he was somewhat of an interesting character in a tone that left me more than a little worried. What I found was a kind-hearted man with a wonderful personality and a wry sense of humor. Over the years, he introduced me to some great restaurants around the country and I looked forward to hanging out with him at various conferences. I still enjoy telling the story of a particular Thai restaurant in Berkeley that Richard took Jim Ryan, Dominic Zarro and myself to. Even though I haven’t seen him much over the last several years I have many happy memories and will miss him. Deepest condolences to his family.
Posted by Diane Cassetta on December 31, 2020
Dear Carol- Steve and I are so sorry for your loss. Richard was a wonderful man, brother, uncle and son. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him. We consider ourselves fortunate to have known him and were able to enjoy some time with him over the years. He was a devoted family man who never missed a celebration and his quick wit and wealth of knowledge added much to each celebration. You and your family are in our prayers. Love Diane and Steve
Posted by Anne Fiordalisi on December 29, 2020
My name is Anne. I was a classmate since Oakville-Mayfield Jr-Mayfield Sr. I was never in any of his classes but I knew him. He would pass me on to classes and say HI. Or when we had our High school reunions he would say HI. I sometimes referred to him as an egghead, One of the smartest classmates I knew. I will miss him next time when we all meet for our 50th???? reunion. Sending prayers to his family.
Posted by Nick Nardo on December 28, 2020
I was lucky enough to marry Richard's cousin, Cathleen. The bonus was knowing Richard.
Every moment I spent with him was a real pleasure. Such generosity of spirit.
I will also miss his cooking. But mostly his wry humor and intelligence.
My deepest sympathies to those who knew him and miss him, too.
Posted by Craig DeForest on December 28, 2020
I shared a cubicle with Richard for several years during the SOHO era in the late 1990s. He was inimitable. I will always remember his mix of brilliance, quick wit, bristly exterior, and deep kindness. He always demanded rigor and wit from those around him, and never pulled punches. Over the last two decades I have looked forward to our all-too-rare encounters - both professionally and personally - at GSFC and at conferences.  Richard was a gem of the science community and will be deeply missed.
Posted by Rachel Penn on December 25, 2020
My brother was one of a kind. We were so different in so many ways yet we were very much a like. My kids and I are going to miss his special dinners, his special matzah brie, his Thanksgiving Turkey's, his frittata's. 
When he would come for a visit he would make himself comfortable at my dinning room table, setting up his computer's, working and watching his games. Life will not be the same without my brother. Love, Carol
Posted by Rachel Penn on December 20, 2020
Richard was my uncle. We shared a love for the game of tennis when I was younger and as I grew up what we shared most was a mutual appreciation and respect for each other. He could always be relied on, he never missed a family function and he never turned down an opportunity to cook for those he loved. I am devastated to have lost him but his memory will always be one of my biggest blessings. Uncle Richard, you were loved more than you'll ever know.

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