Remembering Lex de Haan
Posted by Harald van Breederode on February 1, 2009
Today it is three years ago that my dear friend Lex de Haan passed away after fighting an unfair battle against cancer. I know that many of you knew Lex and know what he meant for the Oracle community in general and for me in particular. Lex proposed my OakTable membership for example. I had the pleasure to work very closely with Lex on numerous occasions and today I like to share some of my memories with you.
My oldest memory goes back to the time when Lex was delivering seminars all over Europe and I was an Unix system administrator in the Dutch data center. I had no clue about what Lex was doing and to be honest I didn’t always understood why he needed things that no one else needed, like a FTP server to store his course material on. Lex always challenged me with very difficult to fulfill requests. Years later when I became a DBA instructor myself I begun to understand what Lex was doing and that he was actually a very nice and brilliant guy.
We really start to work together after I attended the Oracle9i New Features Train-The-Trainer (TTT) course held in Istanbul Turkey where Lex was one of the instructors. When it was time to upgrade this course from 9iR1 to 9iR2 Lex requested me to become part of the project team to take care of four lessons. I must admit that Lex was a very pleasant boss to work for and we became close friends.
By the time I was progressing to blindness, Lex left Oracle to start his own company called Natural-Join. When I had to attend the Oracle10g RAC TTT held in Paris I requested Lex to join me and we had a great time together. I had just started mobility training in order to learn how to walk with a mobility cane (white stick) and this was my first trip using the cane. Since both Lex and I are quite tall we both walk very quick. We were joking the whole week about me walking into someone’s back and let them trip over my mobility cane. Heading back home we were a bit late when we crossed the Gare du Nord railway station walking very fast not paying attention to other travelers. So suddenly there was a Frenchman lying on the floor in front of us who had tripped over my mobility cane. When he was back on his feet he apologized by saying “Sorry, I did not see you” and I responded with “I didn’t see you either because I am blind”. When we continued our rush to the train I discovered that my very expensive mobility cane was broken into two pieces, so I had to walk at Lex his arm for the rest of the day. It took us quite a while before we were able to stop laughing.
The months that followed Lex assisted me learning how to teach without sight and he wrote some PowerPoint macros for me to make it easier to use it. And he came up with the brilliant idea to use magnets on the whiteboard making it possible for me to find back what I wrote and also to use them while explaining things. As of today I still use the magnets and PowerPoint macros.
My last memory is from the day I had to say farewell to Lex while he was treated in the hospital. By that time the cancer had begun to affect his brain and Lex was in a bad condition when I visited him for the very last time. He was mostly asleep but woke up from time to time having a clear moment. When he realized I was there he took my mobility cane and while touching every centimeter of it he started a long monologue about what a brilliant wonderful piece of modern technology it was and that he certainly would choose the same model if he needed one himself. Four days later Lex passed away…
For more Lex memories please visit this Lex in Memoriam page on the OakTable site.