Memorials from our Alumni, Students & Friends
I met Richard his first week at Caltech, when I was his upper-class counselor at frosh camp. As fate would have, since we both ended up in the field of atmospheric science, we ran into each other at conferences and
workshops over the years. I can still hear him talking excitedly about an observation station in the Azores. Richard was one of those people who seemed wise at an early age. I think that was because the person he
appeared to be on the outside was exactly who he was on the inside. He was contemplative, generous, and enthusiastic about his work and his family. He told mehow much he loved living in Michigan, a wonderful place to raise a family, with all of the outdoor opportunities. It was clear that his family was completely and utterly important to him. He struck me as one of those people who every day gets up and says, "I love my life." My thoughts are with his family. It is clear from the photos and stories that I heard that you were so integral to his very being. I hope the memories of a lifetime with him are treasures you keep in your heart forever.
Cyndi Atherton, Pleasanton, CA
I was shocked and very sorry to read of Richard's death in the Caltech News. Persons of his moral an intellectual calibre are too rare. I was the RA in Ricketts House for much of Richard's stay at Caltech. I was also his friend. He, Dave and I drove to Alaska one summer where he met Lori and we left Richard there with Lori in the wilderness for the rest of that summer. I
remember taking him to a Wendy's in Alaska just before we left him so he could load up on salad (in the days when they had a salad bar.) He was not sure where his next vitamin was coming from. Dave and I drove back from Fairbanks to Sacramento in record time and I spent a night sleeping in his parents' backyard before heading back to Pasadena. Shine and I visited him and Lori in Pittsburg but then somehow lost touch. I still thought about him frequently, though. I had the deepest respect for his commitment to our world and our Earth. We need him now more than ever. Our hearts go to Lori.
We first met Richard on the day he married our daughter, Lori, on Dec. 22nd. 1984, at our home in Red Bluff, Ca. This was while Richard was attending Carnegie Mellon to get his masters. They had called about a month earlier to tell us they wanted to get married and would like to have the wedding at our home with only family and close friends. The only way he could get enough time off to make the trip from Pa. to Ca. and back was during Xmas vacation so we said that was great and started planning for this wedding with only a month notice. They had met the year before in Alaska where Lori was working and Richard had come up to Denali National Park with 3 other boys I believe it was. A cute story! Have Lori tell you about that! We knew he was very intelligent but it wasn't until after he joined the faculty at Michigan Tech. that we realized the person he
really was. You see, we knew him as the unassuming, quiet, family man and father side of him rather than the scientist, researcher, writer, etc. If we asked about his work, he would tell us in his own quiet way but never
bragged about the things he was doing. We have learned more about Richard from all the comments after his obituary, than we could have ever hoped for earlier. It was gratifying to see, while we were in Houghton those 2 1/2 weeks, all the outpouring of concern, help for Lori and the family, all the food provided, the support, the flowers, plants, the very nice people at Best Western Motel, the services, and I could go on forever. It was so nice to talk to so many people that were close to Richard and the family. It is very sad and hard to believe that Richard is no longer with us but we have to remember that we did have the privilege of knowing him for almost 24 years, that he and Lori led a very full life, and that they guided their children through their early years with so much love. He and Lori were such good parents, I can't stress that enough, and Lori will carry that on without him now but with him always in her mind.
Betty and Hugh Mills, Red Bluff, Ca.
Richard became a dear colleague and friend over the past 14 years here. As a colleague, he was a delight to work with. Whether he was co-teaching a course, participating in a meeting, working on a research proposal, or directing a program, he challenged those working with him to identify a logical path to reach goals that would benefit all the most. As a fellow faculty member and I reminisced at his memorial service, he raised the level of whatever he was involved in, not the bar. That combination of excellent critical thinking skills and ability to articulate the logic inoffensively yet honestly was one of the things that made him a great colleague. In this way I hope I can be more like Richard. I also appreciate the respect Richard showed those with whom he worked by following through, and by making transparent his/a particular group’s actions or intentions using those great communication skills of his and extra effort. Richard acted upon an awareness of the need for a diverse faculty and student body, and he promoted the growth and success of all students. I especially appreciate his example in fostering success of women advisees. However, not only was Richard a terrific colleague, it was in part he and Lori’s lovely family that convinced Noel and I to proceed to adopt nine years ago. We relied on the Honrath’s advice through the adoption process, and I credit our happy family journey until now in part to the Honrath’s example, advice, and friendship. Before and after our daughter came home, we had many memorable get-togethers with the Honraths and other friends. These will continue in new forms without Richard, I hope. It is in these settings, whether it was for a dinner, skiing, camping by the shore of Lake Superior, picnicking at Bob Lake, or hiking to Kun-de-Kun falls, that I will remember Richard at his silliest and gentlest. One such memory is of a Sunday afternoon a few years back when the women cyclers met at the Honrath’s for a bike ride followed by dinner for all prepared by Richard. (What a guy!) There was Richard, in the kitchen, carefully ironing a frilly, pink blouse of Lori’s. (I have to wonder if he staged that one!) Thanks for the example and the memories, Rich.
Judith Perlinger, Chassell, MI
Richard was such a wonderful person, with such compassion and sincerity. He was a fellow student at Caltech, and we were project partners for a freshman engineering course, as well as in the same dorm. He lived a life he loved, with outdoor activities, research, and family. I remember his excitement to stay in Alaska, while his two travel companions for the summer road trip returned back to the comfort of California. ("So much
like Richard", we thought, "Staying in a tent in Alaska.") He was so thrilled meeting and later marrying Lori and the two of them returned to Alaska so Richard could do his graduate work. I'm sure he was a great father -- I remember him writing shortly after the adoption of his first child, "People always say your life changes when you have a child -- but that's the point of it -- I want to have my life change and have a child". My thoughts are with his family.
Janet Tamada, Stanford, CA
I had the intention to write about Richard for a while now, but despite the few days passed, it is still very hard to believe and accept what happened and it is even harder to put in words my thoughts. I joined MTU less than a year ago and I met Richard for the first time almost exactly a year ago when I first came to Houghton for my interview. Richard was part of the hiring committee and, not knowing him personally at that time, I was a bit intimidated by his achievements and his successes in science. When I came here, I experienced immediately Richard’s genuine interest in building a strong atmospheric science program at MTU. I enjoyed interacting with him and I appreciated his gentle, humble, but enthusiastic approach to research and to education. Only after coming here at MTU though, I could really value his ceaseless effort in bringing together the atmospheric science group with warmth, respect and also with challenge … and of course with his smile. I experienced his ability to work tirelessly and continuously while I was going through the process, new for me, to recruit new Ph.D. students. He was in the Azores at that time, but he kept answering my e-mails and inquires promptly, even while he was at the Pico site. He provided me with real help and suggestions pushing me in the right direction. It has been especially at that time that I really appreciated his giving personality, his willingness to help at any time and in any conditions and to move forward at any cost. During that e-mail exchange I also enjoyed reading about his work in the field and his progress there… I had the desire to be there with him scrambling up the mountain. Even during our science discussions here at MTU Richard was always ready with suggestions and comments that showed his great intelligence and his ability to quickly catch the important aspects of other people’s research. Although I did not know much about that since very recently, I believe I shared with him the fascination for a direct and bare-handed contact with the wild nature. Unfortunately, I had little time to know him, but I still feel emotional when I think of him and I will be missing him greatly. I know I learned a lot from Richard and he
will remain a model to follow.
Claudio Mazzoleni, Houghton, MI
Richard was my advisor from 1997 to 2002. During the years, he showed me all the characters for being an excellent researcher and a great mentor. He was one of the most intelligent people I have ever met, yet he was very kind, fair and understanding. He clearly cared about his graduate students and tried to give them the best training possible. I was absolutely shocked when I learned this tragic news. I kept in touch with him in these years and thought about visiting Houghton sometime later. I imagined that we could get together and talk over our lives over these years. Sadly, that will never happen...I will deeply miss him. I truly wish that Lori and the children could pass through this tragic time soon and get back to their usual life.
Jie Yang, Marietta, GA
I was really shocked to hear this news. Prof Richard Honrath was a extraordinary researcher and a great person. He had the ability to explain the most difficult concepts in a very simple manner. I was his graduate student and he was my mentor. I learned atmospheric chemistry, air quality monitoring from him. Besides being an expert in his field, he was very caring and affectionate and never made me feel that I am so far away from my home. I still can not believe this. I pray to God to give his family courage and strength to bear this irreparable loss.
Naresh Badwar, Delhi, India
Twenty years ago Richard was my very fist PhD student at the U of Alaska. I was a new Assistant Professor still wet behind the years and so I was very lucky to have such a strong student to start with. Richard and I made numerous trips up to Barrow Alaska where he did most of his field work. What an interesting place that was! I have such wonderful memories of that time with Richard. We developed a great friendship and mutual respect for each others ideas. After he left the University of Alaska and took his position at Michigan Tech, Richard did some really nice and original scientific work, especially his observations in the Azores and his work on snowpack chemistry. I have to say that it was extremely satisfying to see one of my former students be so successful. I wish I could take some credit, but it was really Richard's drive, intellect and integrity that made this happen! And now some of his graduate students are also out in the scientific community doing excellent work. But the most important things about Richard were not just his incredible intellect and creativity, but also his integrity as a scientist and his commitment to his family. My heart goes out to Lori and the entire family. You are in my prayers.
Dan Jaffe, Seattle, WA
I would like to share some words from Richard's memorial: Richard was my mentor and my PhD advisor. We worked together for 8 years. After my graduation, he became also my friend. Before I moved to Cambridge for my post-doc, I stopped by his office to say goodbye. Richard told me he was very proud of me and he was not my advisor anymore. After hearing that, I started being worried. He then continued and told me he was now my friend and he would always be there for anything I needed. I will never forget these words. Richard was proud of all his students, and I am honored to have been a student of his. Richard was a great mentor. He wanted us to succeed and become good scientists. Richard encouraged us to develop and bring up our own ideas even though they could be wrong. And when they were wrong, he would never say directly “that’s wrong”. He would ask questions or give examples to make us realize we were in the wrong track. I still remember when I gave Richard the first draft of my master thesis. I had written that quite fast and it had turned out very bad. I guess it was not easy for Richard to tell me straight how bad my thesis was. So he came to my office, sat down and started talking. He used an analogy on soccer. At first, I did not know what he was trying to say. Plus, I never thought Richard was a fan of soccer, much less of an expert. I remember thinking “what= is he talking about?” He explained how to score a goal playing soccer. There are two ways: One is playing slowly, criss-crossing to get closed to the goal and finally kick the ball in the back of the net; the other is to try to kick the ball from your side of the field directly into the goal of the opponent team, which is evidently not the best of the tactics. In my case, I had kicked the ball ahead from very far away and, of course, I had not even gotten close to scoring. I finally got what was the message “rewrite your whole thesis” and sincerely appreciated the way the message was delivered. I then started working on single sections and then chapters, discussing each part with Richard, I put the whole thesis together and finally graduated. I learned Richard’s “tactics” of small steps, which I used throughout my PhD and I still use. Richard was intelligent and brilliant. He had an amazing way of analyzing and debugging problems. That made him very efficient. He could find a problem on an instrument by simple describing the “symptoms” in his lab notebook and drawing conclusions on the possible causes. After he was done, he just needed to go and fix that particular problem. As for myself, my method for fixing things was brute-force trial and error, possibly using a hammer. Richard was very patient with me, taught me how to understand the instruments at the station and spent hours showing me how to find and fix a problem. I never became as good as Richard, but at least I stopped using the hammer. Richard always chose very remote places where to conduct his research: Greenland, Azores, Newfoundland… but, Richard didn’t like to be away from his family. During our field trips to the Azores, Richard was always working, whether writing on his laptop, reviewing papers, or checking instruments. One day I asked him how he could concentrate and have so much done away from his office. He replied: “Well, I need to focus and work as much as possible while I am away from my family, so that when I am back home I can spend all my time with them”. Many people in the atmospheric science community knew Richard well and admired his research work. In the last week, I have received several emails from scientists all over the US and Europe saying how great, good person and exceptional scientist Richard was. One scientist wrote“Richard will live on in the accomplishments of his students.” For me, this is a great responsibility, and I can only promise that I will do all I can to live up to Richard’s accomplishments as well as transmit his teaching and mentoring to younger scholars.
Maria Val Martin, Cambridge, MA
It is hard to imagine that a person like Richard Honrath, a professor I always will be proud of having been his student, is no longer among us. I hope there will be scientists sharing his interest for education that will follow his steps in learning about nature and teaching
that knowledge to all.
Leonardo Di Mare, Medellin, Colombia
Let me say it straight, and simple - Richard was a good man. He was a very good scientist, and community and family man. He did everything that he did with a most wonderful grace and humility. I know that I can say that for myself, and for many others, we wish that we could be more like Richard. This is one measure of impact. You will be sorely missed, Richard.
Paul B. Shepson, West Lafayette, IN
I am so sorry to hear of the loss of Dr. Honrath. He was a great man and fabulous teacher, always full of fun stories and plenty of enthusiasm. I enjoyed the time I spent with him during my years at Tech - including his stories of adventure while kayaking. I'm sorry future students will not have the chance to learn from him. Myheart goes out to his family.
Britt (Forrer) Daiss, Hill City, SD
Words shared at Friday's service: I usually don't have the courage to speak at these events, but I know Rich never lacked for courage. So I will try to convey my thoughts. My greatest condolences to Lori and to Rich's family; you have lost a treasure and we thank you for sharing him with us for these too-few years. I was out of town when I heard this news and it felt impossible and unreal until I returned on Wednesday and could feel the void on our campus as I approached, as through there was a little rip in the universe centered at Michigan Tech. Rich came to Tech several years before I did so he has always been a part of my academic environment. I worked with him on several activities, and I feel very honored to be a co-author on several publications with him. I won't reiterate what you all know of Rich's extraordinary professional accomplishments, but want to give a small sense of the intangibles that made him so successful. One piece was his total dedication to science of the highest quality, a standard to which he held himself as well as his students, co-workers, and collaborators. In return, he gave complete respect and serious consideration to the ideas and opinions of other people, whether a child, an undergraduate student or a senior scientist. Like all really great scientists, Rich had an insatiable curiosity. Like all successful ones, he was able to pick out important problems, ask important questions, and organize efforts to pursue them. Perhaps what I admired most was Rich's ability to focus like a laser on the essential crux of an issue, whether it was a fundamental scientific question, a practical research problem, a student question, or just how to get a group of people all headed toward a common goal. He would quietly listen to people blundering around trying to figure out the central issue, then would just calmly point it out to the group; I watched for those moments to try to figure out how he did it. It is rare in my job to feel happy to be going to yet another meeting, but because of his insights and unfailingly positive outlook that's how I felt when Rich was going to be there. Rich displayed the highest ethical values in his science and in every other situation where I saw him. He ceaselessly searched for the truth and enthusiastically enlisted others to join him. Because of those traits, he was a terrific mentor to students, postdocs, and faculty members. We all have times when we're frustrated and wonder how we can do better in all our various endeavors. Often when that mood comes upon me, and I've cast about for roll models for all manner of activities, my conclusion has been "try to be more like Rich". I will keep trying to follow that advice to myself, as I expect many of you will also. I know that we will all carry a part of this remarkable person with us always.
Sarah Green, Calumet, MI
I would like to echo the sentiments from several other students, that I feel extremely privileged to have been able to work with Richard, even if it was for only a short time. Any technical questions I had regarding the project in Greenland, I knew that he was the perfect person to ask. His advice and tremendous knowledge will be sorely missed.
Brie Van Dam, Boulder, CO
I first met Richard in the 9th grade. He was in a few of my classes but I will always remember him as the guy on our cross country team who could make anyone laugh. We were in marching band together, and of course, Richard played first trumpet as a freshman. With his easy going manner, sharp mind, and athletic prowess, Richard was a great guy to have on your side in either a debate or a sporting contest. I was very sorry to hear of Dr. Honrath's passing, and am quite sure that he is one of a select few who actually leave this world better off than before they came into it. My prayers are with his family and friends.
Kevin Robinson, Twin Falls, ID
Richard or “Dicky” as I knew him were great friends as very young kids living across the street from each other in Sacramento, California. I thought that I would like to share the only photo that have of him. It’s from one of those rare rainy days where it pours down so hard that the drainage system just can’t handle the load. Us kids thought there was enough water in the street to float a boat and we did. Someone called the Sacramento Bee and the rest was history. Richard is seen here piloting the Honrath family canoe down our street with one of my sisters and the kid next door. I am very sorry that he is gone but was very happy to have spent many good times together being kids. I will remember him always. Loren Root, McHenry, IL
It was a beautiful and moving memorial service yesterday. So many people articulated wonderfully Richard's grace and contributions. Wayne, particularly, helped to point the way forward and Alex inspired us to draw from Richard's passion and personal commitment to solving the enormous problem that climate change presents us. I'm on the MTU faculty and I got to know Richard during last year's Environmental Sustainability faculty university-wide hiring initiative. Our search committee started with about 30 people, but ten months of sometimes difficult weekly meetings later, we were often down to about 7 regulars - John, Jason, Will, Sue, Andrew, Richard, and me. Others came sometimes and many contributed invaluably, but mostly it was us by then. At the end of a year of working together, we did about 18 interviews in around 6 weeks. It was very intense, but so worthwhile, and we bonded together deeply. I came to like and respect Richard so much - like me, he was very focused on using the process to build MTU's capacity, but especially that of his graduate program. But he was always gracious, sometimes funny in the silliest way, and above all, thoughtful. He was a key part of MTU's wonderful, extensive circle of environmental sustainability faculty and his loss leaves us with a hole in our circle and our hearts. However, we also know that he left us a tremendous legacy, including the fact that we were able to attract Claudio, Lynn, Paul, and Shiliang, four top-notch atmospheric scientists, to MTU during last years university-wide search, in large part due to Richard. In fact, when our search committee asked one of them why they wanted to come here, they said, "to work with Richard Honrath." Richard was a world-class scientist and a world-class human being, I'll miss him very much, and I am lucky to have known him.
Kathy Halvorsen, Michigan Tech, Social Sciences
As noted above, our family made its contribution to the post World War II baby boom -- and it was in the context of holiday gatherings over many years that I enjoyed Richard's company as one of our more-than-a-dozen cousins. I'm shocked to consider that we were separated by only three years in age. In youth, it seemed a more significant chasm in time. Too many of my memories of Richard are of this younger cousin. They are uniformly happy: we were often engaged in games, or playing jokes - - practical or impractical. Our travels later in life took us each in interesting, but different directions. I followed with pride his academic success -- even more impressed that every aspect of his professional and personal life indicated contribution to a greater good. We had recently been back in touch, and were to have shared dinner May 4 while he visited Washington, D. C. on business. I regret not having known Richard the husband, father and gifted, caring scientist -- but am not surprised that the curious and kind cousin with whom I played as a child grew up to become the exceptional man now recalled. I am so sorry for his loss.
Chas Henry, Annandale, VA
Richard and me came to Michigan Tech almost at the same time. Our families were close due to our common interests. From the very beginning I noticed that he was an avid nature lover. No doubt that his research interests were in atmospheric sciences. He loved being an outdoorsman. Like many great scientists, he was unassuming despite being brilliant, simple in actions and words yet genius in approach, straight forward in talk
yet elegant in thought, and above all a person who loved everyone and enjoyed his life to the fullest. Personally, our family will miss you, but I know for sure that the broader scientific community will miss your intellect and contributions. But your scientific legacy in through your efforts at Azores (and in numerous publications) will continue to make a lasting impact in saving our planet.
Ghatu Sabhash, Gainesville, FL
I have not been fully able to process the fact that I will not meet Richard in the hallways of DOW and Dillman any more. He was my masters adviser from 1999-01 and left a deep impression on me. He was clearly THE most intelligent person I have met but was surprisingly easy to talk to. As many have noted here, I was always amazed at his ability to convey complex ideas with so much clarity. He expected his students to work hard but was always there to help them. There were many days when I will be heading home at midnight and I'd see a light under his door. I am deeply saddened by his untimely death but very grateful for the privilege of having worked with him. Thank you Richard for all your help and advise. Sincere condolences to Lori, Ramey and Prabha.
Raman Gopalan, Hubbell, MI
My most memorable things about Richard was his everpresent smile. Even in a tough rapid. I still remember him doing Hang'Em High on the Eagle. He had that big, old long boat and old, obsolete life jacket. He ran that rapid like a very smooth pro. Didnt blink, sweat or look nervous. I will always remember him doing Hang 'Em High. Most of us didnt run it that day and the ones that did, looked a tad sloppy or swam. Richard hit everything perfectly. Until that moment I didnt know he was that good because he tended to walk a lot of drops that I had run and I didnt think they were overly difficult. I think it was that same weekend or there abouts that he
invited our entire gang to sleep in his house. Richard and his wife were very generous. They wanted us comfortable and we were a rather large group. I ended up sleeping in the living room where Jim Paul had just completed remodeling. I was very impressed with Jims workmanship. I know the Honraths were pleased with it too. I recall, also, that he had two children that he and his wife adopted. I paddled with Richard several times on several rivers, more than I can remember right now. But on some occasions I would leave work early, drive four hours from Appleton and Richard would meet me at the Sturgeon River south of Lanse, with Jim P, Mike D or Robert P. He was always punctual. I would've paddled more with him but to Richard his family always came first. He would attend his childrens music recitals or sporting events as much as possible. Paddling sometimes came second as some days his work didnt seem too eminent. I know from the way he talked that his work was very meaningful to him. I just cant imagine, right now, that he has passed from us. He was full of life.
Peter Meyer, Appleton, WI
When I remember Richard, I think about music and sled dogs. I had the wonderful experience of singing a few songs with Lori at an open microphone night at an art gallery in Hancock about 15 years ago. Lori played guitar and Richard played mandolin. I was told he had recently taught himself to play in an outrageously short amount of time, but he sounded like a pro. They invited me and my kids to their house to practice the songs. My grown daughter, Brianna, still talks about their sled dog named Goofy. Mostly, though, I remember the uncontained joy when he told me that he and Lori were going to be parents.
Mary J. (Babiera) Hana, Maybee, MI
Richard was my cousin, a special boy, and a special man. I had the privilege of babysitting Little Dick, as we called him then. I would take him in the stroller and Tovar, Linda's dog by my side, and we would walk in the early summer evenings listening to my transister radio. Later,when he was a little older, Little Dick would make himself a seat between me and my boyfriends on the couch. It'd get pretty crowded with three peple crunched together. When Richard started school he had three girls helping him with his work and teaching him lifeskills. Even though we kept in touch through letters, pictures, and the family network in later years, my feelings for Richard remained the same. I really loved my cousin Richard. I feel honored to have been a part of Richard's life. He will be sorely missed. We all knew he was a genius. It's wonderful to know the that inspiration, the humor, the patience and knowledge we all knew he had, helped so many students and people as evidenced by the comments posted here. I just can' believe his time on Earth would be so short. I also just had a thought, Momma
Donna will probably be surprised to meet Richard in heaven so early.
Alice M. Eisenhut-Torres, Nipomo, CA
It has been almost a week and I still feel very hard to face the reality that Richard has left us. I have been a colleague of Richard for only 3 months, but he has impressed and influenced me so much that I would like to say: No matter how arrogant I was, I became humble after listening to him; no matter how humble I was, I became more positive and confident with what I am doing after talking with him. Richard, you will be missed very much, by many.
Shiliang Wu, Michigan Tech, Houghton, MI
I was one of Richard’s first Master’s students at MTU. He was a brilliant researcher yet very unassuming. He was a motivating advisor who could bring the best out of every student. I vividly remember that many students were scared of taking his Advanced Air Pollution class. But once they took it, they came out feeling that they really learned a lot. He had an innate knack of making even the most complex subject very simple. He was also very compassionate and helpful to students. Subhash, me and our children are extremely fortunate to have known Richard and his family. Lori, Ramey and Prabha – our thoughts and prayers are with you. Richard will be dearly missed by all of us.
Shobha Subhash, Gainesville, FL
I have not only been priviledged to know Richard but to be related to him too! I am another of the 18 cousins that Lynn Eisenhut spoke of. I have wonderful memories of playing with him when we were children, sitting around chatting as we got older. I will always remember his infectious laugh. As I read everything that has been written here it just proves what I already knew, that Richard was a wonderful Husband, Father, Professor,
Friend. I am so honored to have had him in my life.
Laura Schafer, Aurora, CO
Richard Honrath was an excellent scientist who put a great deal of effort and care into the projects he worked on. I now realize that he lived the rest of his life that way too. I was very impressed by his committment to his students, and his calm manner in the face of both success and adversity. He was a very responsible member of the community, with a great record of service. He will truly be missed.
Eric Hintsa, Arlington, VA
I first met Dick Honrath (I never got used to calling him Richard) in 1971. He had Drew Carey dark frame glasses, almost white hair and his usual suntan to match. We both dealt with some school yard taunts but nothing out of the ordinary in 4th grade. We were in boyscouts together and I remember a high altitude snowbound backpacking trip when the whole troop ended up at our camp because we had the only dry camp with a fire. I ran track & cross- country with him in highschool and spent plenty of time goofing around with him. He was our voice expert for telephone gaffs. Without bursting into laughter, he calmly made up the name of an imaginary corporation or other "very serious" character to pull off some of the funniest pranks ever. One made it on television and our friend Paul Silberstien took the wrap for some others. He was always willing to help me with difficult math/algebra/physics and we were in all the same science classes for six years, but I remember him most having fun out doors. I keep an old canoe by the side of my house just like the one his family had at his folks place. It always reminds me of him.
Thomas E. Foran, Sacramento, CA
He was my advisor for less than a year, but he left a big mark in my life. He was one of the most brilliant professors that I ever had. Always smiling, even if I did something totally wrong, he told me “don’t be so hard with yourself, everybody can made a mistake”. Sometimes funny, sometimes tough, he always knew what I was trying to ask, where exactly was my mistake, and how to explain me in the most simple way…I wasn’t so lucky to share with him more time, and I wish now to have worked more hard during this 2 semesters to show him how grateful I am because he trusted in me and give me the opportunity to come here. Thanks Richard. I’ll do my best to deserve have been your student.
Claudia Toro, Houghton, MI
I feel privileged to have been able to work alongside Richard this past year. He was a world-class scientist and an inspirational advisor. Whatever we were doing, whether it was setting up instruments in Greenland or sitting in his office solving problems, he always had a smile on his face and such enthusiasm for his work. I have had such a wonderful experience working with Richard and I will miss him greatly.
Louisa Kramer, Houghton, MI
Richard was my cousin, one of the "littie cousins," second to last out of 18. Although we had not seen each other in recent years, his family and mine spent most holidays together when he was a boy. At the time, I was not as impressed by him as those sharing their thoughts here...come on, wouldn't you be irritated by a kid (egged on by his sisters!) who kept trying to prove he was smarter than you by asking "Do you know...?" Since he was only about 6 and I was 17, I won most of the time, but still...! Today, I AM impressed by the kind of man he grew into, as evidenced by these comments of friends, students and colleagues. At first, I mourned the passing of Richard, my cousin; now, I also mourn the passing of a man of extraordinary integrity, generousity and tolerance, taken from the world far too soon.
Lynn Eisenhut, Anaheim, CA
I first got to know Richard by taking his course in atmospheric chemistry several years ago. Being a relatively new grad student, I was a bit intimidated. Here was a man with a passion for science that he wore on
his sleeve. He had a genuine belief in rigor in the pursuit of science and would accept nothing less from his colleagues and students. There were no short cuts and no simplifications. He made you do it his way, the right way, but he was always there with a smile and laugh to help you get there. As I got to know him better as a member of my graduate committee and as a fellowship mentor, his kindness and zest for life were obvious. I am a better person and a better scientist as a result of knowing and working with Richard. As a scientist, professor, and community member, he was a true role model.
Alan Talhelm, Reno, NV
Wow, why do bad things happen to such good people. I met Rich and Lori in Fairbanks and can't tell you the number of interesting conversations we had on all sorts of topics - atm. chemistry and otherwise. Rich had what I call "quiet competence." It was great to just hang out with them and their dogs. I also got to see them in Houghton - what a happy house that was. I am sad.
Matt Zukowski, Anchorage, AK
I was fortunate to share research field trips with Richard from Boulder to Newfoundland to the Azores. It was some of the most exciting research that I have been involved in, but what I will most remember was Richard's quiet, confident smile and quick laugh. I am very sad that he is gone, and will miss him greatly.
David Parrish, Niwot, CO
I first met Richard at a kayak roll session about 17 years ago. He and Dave Bullock would patiently take me along on the local rivers and helped me develop some paddling skills. And then about 10 years ago he hired me as a technician to help set up some instruments on the highest point of the Greenland ice cap. That was a tough project but Richard led the way and made everything seem easy. He then came up with an even harder project in the Azores Islands where he planed to put some fully automated store bought as well as home built instruments on top of a steep wet and sometimes ice covered 7000 foot volcano in the north Atlantic and operate them year around. One reviewer of that proposal knew Richard and said that Richard was the only scientist that could pull that off. It was tough and harsh work at times but Richard would lead us through with his keen intellect, boundless patience and that smile of his. Richard, you will be deeply missed.
Mike Dziobak, Houghton, MI
I had the pleasure of meeting Richard on a field campaign in Greenland last summer. Even though I was just an 18-year-old undergraduate working in research for the first time, Richard treated me with utmost respect and equality, sharing many details of his work and life with me on those cold, snowy nights. Reading about all the contributions he has made, both to science and to the lives of his loved ones, I am even more impressed by the life that he led. I wish I had gotten to know you better, Richard; you will be missed.
Max Schneider, Los Angeles, CA
My thoughts, and sympathies are with Lori and the children on this sad, sad ocassion. Rich was a wonderful, loving, gentle, kind, compassionate individual, not to mention a smart and effective researcher and academician. I am proud to have considered him my friend, and I have spent the weekend grieving his loss. My heart especially goes out to his wife Lori. Lori, I am so sorry for your loss. I wish there was something I could do, I feel useless being so many miles away, and wish I could be at the memorial onFriday. I thought the world of Rich, and will miss him,
too. Richard Honrath was a great scientist and a great person.
Floyd Henderson, Calumet, MI
He made major contributions to the study of air pollution and the global balance of the earth - but more than that, he was just the sort of person you want as a colleague. He was always generous in helping others, he was especially encouraging to students and young people just starting out in their careers. I and many others will remember him both as a scientist and as a kind person.
Sanford Sillman, AOSS, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Thank you Richard for being warm and welcoming and bringing Lori with you to Houghton and sharing friendship. I especially loved the luminaria in the woods at new years in the snow with the bonfire and the christmas tree light sledding. What an effort and so worth it! Thank you. Peace to you and to Lori and Ramey and Prabha.
Love, Harriet King
Richard and Lori came to Tech shortly after I did. I recall going out to their place on Otter Lake with Mary Babiera and my dog, Casey, and learning to Skijor. Richard gave me a photo of Casey, but he called her Chewbacca. It was at this time that they were getting their home ready for the adoption process. It's Ramey's arrival that I recall the most. Richard and Lori worked so hard to get everything ready for him and to ease his transition to Houghton and to school. Last Winter, I was at their house working on SkiTiger stuff. Prabha was working on her science fair project. Richard's comment was that she had a good project and that her write-up would be colorful with many font types. When I think of Richard, Lori's name is always attached, along with his children. I will miss his quiet and gentle presence at Tech and within the community.
Gretchen Hein, Calumet, MI
Richard and I were in grad school together at Carnegie Mellon University when he was there in 1984-85. Once, the night before he was to depart for a summer of fieldwork in Greenland, I made him a departure dinner – Lori was away working at a summer job at a national park. Richard didn’t make it to Greenland that trip – he ended up in the intensive care unit of the local hospital with acute pancreatitis. (I’ve never allowed any connection between my home-cooked meal and his hospitalization – but I think he forgave me anyway!). We kept in touch over the years, although I regret not having been to Houghton in 13 years. Fortunately, Richard’s tremendous professional accomplishments allowed him to occasionally come to Washington for work and we saw each other periodically. My heart goes out to all who feel his loss directly and acutely. He and the world deserved each other for much longer. We’ll all have his smile to remember. (And I had to rewrite this to change all my present tenses to past tense - very sad.)
John Borrazzo, Washington DC
I first paddled the L’Anse area rivers with Rich and Dave about 15 years ago. One could tell that these guys were fast friends as well as good kayakers. Rich always had a relaxed, at-peace sort of vibe that made him really enjoyable to paddle with. Impressive in his generosity, he once spontaneously invited our entire Minnesotan entourage of about 8 (smelly) boaters bivouacking at Silver Falls to stay at his place in Baraga. He was unusually knowledgeable scientifically, and yet he seemed quite humble and approachable in his academic capacity. I would have liked to have had more time to know him. It is obvious that his loss is a unique tragedy for your community. Please accept my sincere condolences.
Paul Everson St Paul, Minnesota
The days that I saw you parking your bike, even on days like today with ridiculous weather, always brought me joy and admiration to see someone who loved and respected the atmosphere enough to study its chemistry and spare it from auto exhaust whenever possible.
Karl Peterson, Houghton, MI
Richard was the best uncle anyone could ask for. From helping me with my math homework in school (any A's can be directly attributed to him) to dishing about my latest boyfriend, he was always able to relate and make me laugh. Reading the comments from his former students and colleagues reminds me how incredibly accomplished and gifted he was in his career, but with his family he had a knack for stripping that all away and just having fun and being silly. It seems like yesterday that we all sat down for Christmas dinner and it is hard to believe that I won't see him again in a few months. My uncle was the kindest, gentlest, funniest, and most genuine person you could ever hope to meet. He will be so missed by so many.
Jessica Ransdall, San Francisco, CA
I know I am speaking for many of Richard’s colleagues at the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder when I say he was a good friend to us and a first class scientist who made great contributions to our field of
research. We have valued our collaborations with Richard and his students (especially Chris Owen and Maria Val Martin) over the years and will sorely miss his comradery and insight. My thoughts are with the Honrath family whom I had the pleasure of meeting when Richard invited me over for a cookout on a visit to Michigan Tech. I'll miss you Richard
Owen Cooper, Boulder, Colorado
I'm very sad to hear of Richard's passing. He was a remarkable person and delightful to talk to. Last year peer-reviewed one of his papers. It's very rare that a paper can bowl you over the way this one did. It was easily one of the finest papers I have ever reviewed, and I remember commenting on Richard's exceptional ability to make complex ideas accessible. A great loss, my thoughtsare with Richard's family and friends.
Isobel Simpson, Medicine Hat, Alberta
Richard, You will be sorely missed. Always someone to go to when the math/chemistry got hard, you will leave behind a void, personally and professionally. I hope friends and family can find some small comfort in the fact your died doing something you loved. Lenny and I will remember you on the East Branch.
Matt Watson, GMES, Houghton
I will never forget Richard's positive attitude towards his work and his life. He always had a smile to share when I spoke with him. Richard possessed a great intellect and took on new challenges and succeeded. We will miss you Richard. The world is definitely a better place because you were in it.
I had the privilege of working with Richard when he first came to MTU - he as a Professor and I was the administrative aide for the Civil & Envir. Engr. Dept. This is a big loss for his family, his extended MTU family, and anyone who ever had contact with him. He was a nice man. I am sorry for the loss to all of you, and the universe at-large. Be strong!
Katie Paxton, Lexington SC
It is always difficult to put feelings into words, but I just needed to write something, after hearing the news about Richard's passing. I had the honor and privilege of being his student twice, for Atmospheric Chemistry and for the Atmospheric Science seminar, a few years ago, when I was a GMES Ph.D. student. He was definitely one of the best teachers I ever had in my life and I thank him for that. It is only too sad that others won't have the opportunity I had to be in his classes. He will be missed so much.
Lizzette A. Rodriguez, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
I still couldn't believe it's true. Actually I just saw him three weeks ago in a seminar. He was always such active and positive. Although I just took one class from him last year, I think he's one of the greatest and respectable people I've ever known. He's always smiling.nice to everybody. You can feel his love towards people and the world through his eyes. And he's a great teacher, too. He had beautiful notes for every single lesson. His homework was tough but very inspiring. He could always find a way to make complicated things simple and understandable. I really learned a lot from him. I hope he's at peace now and his family and all the friends will get through this. We'll miss you, Dr. Honrath.
Na Hu, Houghton, MI
Few months ago, we had Richard over for dinner and talked about his love for kayaking. I had another colleague who oo died living the saying of Helen Keller “Life is nothing if it is not an adventure”. Though I am sad about passing away of Richard, I shall remember him for his adventurous spirit in the intellectual and the physical world.
Madhukar Vable, ME-EM Department, Michigan Tech
I knew Dr. Honrath since I took his class Atmospheric Chemistry last spring. He's such a great professor that he made this class so interesting and we are all very eager to learn. At first, I was somehow very behind, and he talked with me, and helped me out. And he also helped us a lot in how to reading papers, which is very important to a graduate student. He inspired me how to study if you are really interested in some research area. I love his class. I still remembered, just a couple weeks ago, i saw him in a seminar, and he asked questions. And Now, I cannot believe what just happened to him. I am gonna miss him forever. We are all gonna miss him forever.
One of the hardest working persons I have ever met.
Koko, Calumet, MI
Richard was a wonderful mentor who had this amazing ability to describe any complex, confusing problem in a very simple way, till it became very clear, but without being oversimplified. He would do this high-level, internationally-acclaimed research, but he could explain its importance to any middle-school student. He was truly one of those scientists who could communicate science to the general public. He was the most responsible person I have ever known. He couldn’t tolerate sloppy work from anyone, and he was always perfect in whatever he was doing. He was very serious about his responsibilities as an adviser of his students. He could always find time for us, no matter how busy he was, how many projects he was working on, how many hours of sleep he had. He was always there for you if you get stuck with your research or have a question that you don’t know how to approach. He would never answer it for you, but he would lead you to the point where you knew exactly what to do. He was very passionate about his research, and working with him was sometimes challenging, but always rewarding and exciting.
Kateryna Lapina, Fort Collins, CO
Summer 1979 or so. Dick's parents headed out on a long summer trip and left Dick at home that summer with a supply of travelers checks for food, gas, etc. This was, of course, a High School student's dream. Dick and I took that little Spider Fiat out and had a wonderful time. That summer we headed down to San Franciso and went to see the Mood Blues at the Cow Palace and went to find our friend Tom in San Francisco who parents had a house near Mount Davidson. I remember all summer long Dick's line at every story was, "do you take travelers checks?" Cashing them was never easy. I figured I would see him again at some point and we would go out for a run, maybe 3 or 4 miles. You never know when the last time you will see a person is and for me it was way too long ago. How I wish I could go on one last run with him....Dick, I shall forever hold you in the light. Your friend,
Paul Silberstein, Dulles, VA
I've known Richard since he was eleven. I was twenty when I met him. I married his sister and in return he helped me with calculus. I quickly got over that he was younger and smarter. I showed him how to downhill ski and he didn't like it. The outfits were too flashy for him. That was the 80's. He will so be missed.
James T. Ransdall, Pleasanton, CA
Gladys and I are shocked to learn of this awful tragedy!! We knew dear Richard and respected him so much for his gentle manner and for his brilliance. I was with him all through graduate school in Alaska as one of the professors in the department. He was always so eager to learn and appreciative of everybody’s efforts. He was liked by his fellow students and by all the people in the Geophysical Institute. It was such a pleasure to have such a peaceful, thoughtful and quite extraordinary student. Later, I was so pleased to learn that Richard was working with my son Raymond Shaw at Michigan Tech. Raymond constantly spoke of how much he loved working with Richard and how he admired his friendly, peaceful manner. They got to be friends and they were close friends and colleagues. I cannot quite believe that my friend Richard as passed away and in fact I can sense his spirit, still alive, and all the way over here in Japan where I am currently visiting. He was one of the most unselfish persons I have known. I pray that all his loved ones and friends will find peace in knowing that Richard was so wildly loved and admired and we will all continue to profit from his example.
Glenn and Gladys Shaw, Fairbanks, AK
The news came as a shock to me. I can't believe Richard is no more. He was a wonderful human being, a great father, and a dear friend. Always smiling, willing to help others and full of life. What a terrible tragedy. My sincere condolences to the family. I can't imagine what they must be going through. I wish I can say time will heal everything, but one will only learn to cope with the passing of time. The sweet memories of his wonderful life on this planet will hopefully keep us marching on....
Mohan Rao, Houghton, MI
Richard, scientist, teacher, paddler, skijorring machine-father... husband... good guy... you leave us all with something more than we had... see you on the other side,
Drew Pilant, Chapel Hill, NC