Mary Jean Harrold, a professor of software engineering at Georgia Tech, passed away last week. Mary Jean was 67 and still quite active before the cancer struck.
Computer science is still a relatively young field and most of even the early computer scientists remain quite alive. So a death in the field, particularly a colleague, makes a mark because it typically is happening at a young age. I've lost five co-authors (Avner Magen, Steve Mahaney, Andrej Muchnik, Nick Reingold, Carl Smith) all well before their time. Each death is a stark reminder of what's important in life, what does the next theorem mean when life seems so short?
We're nearing a time in computer science that many of our ranks will die after living to a ripe old age. Those remembrances will be of a life well lived. But there will always be lives cut short. The best we can do is remember them and move on and continue to build on the research tradition they left behind.