Daniel Baronet – best of friends for over 30 years
Where to begin? So many memories. Daniel was my best friend, and was so for many years. I could write a book. But it will be a painful book to write, for the weight of such a loss of course, and for all the reasons that anybody who knew him also felt and now express. In my case it seems worse. We were like brothers in some ways, so in Dan, I also see myself.
We go back to the early 80’s at IPSA, Toronto. A bunch of 20-somethings, thrust together at the start of a new and exciting career path that hardly had a name back then. Now we call it IT. Looking back across those years at both our lives, a lot changed but in some ways much stayed the same. Until last month, both of us were playing with APL code every day. Both of us were working with data and designing solutions. Both of us were sharing ideas and helping one another, and others, to solve the problems of the day. That said, Dan was always miles ahead of me in all of these pursuits. He was masterful. He juggled code and data like he juggled that set of coloured balls. It would take me the rest of my life to understand what he intuitively knew of such things.
We hit it off because we had so much in common. Similar interests, a similar outlook and attitudes. A thirst for knowledge, an unquenchable curiosity, a desire to explore. Again, in Dan’s case there’s a 10x factor compared to myself. He opened so many doors, and led the way through them for the rest of us.
Dan was a keen observer of people, and the natural world. My favourite quote from his home spun philosophy book: “kids with wrinkles” – shaking his head and referring mainly to some of the negative sides of adult behaviour often observed – squabbling, bullying, never sharing one’s toys and never really growing up. But he rarely had an unkind word for most, preferring instead to live and let live, a shrug of the shoulders, c’est la vie.
He was a model of frugality. When working in Toronto, he became a regular overnight guest at “the Rex”, a cheap and noisy downtown bar that most locals wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. I could never get over how little he spent, and how little he packed on his trips – one tiny backpack. I felt guilty – what I thought was packing light was still double his load.
Back then, we would hang out at some out-of-the-way pubs, play some billiards, and enjoy some chicken wings. Simple, no-frills entertainment. Occasionally we splashed out – Dan loved Toronto’s Chinatown and had his favourite place there. We also covered most of the restaurant territory in his part of Montréal too – every trip there was another excuse to try some great new menu. Linda would often join us and she had an excellent sense for finding the most interesting and unusual places in town.
Besides APL and work, we shared many other interests. Astronomy, travel, red wine to name a few. Every time I came to visit in Montreal, I used to bring a couple bottles of his favourite Australian vintage – something he couldn’t purchase in Québec. We shared many a glass, recounted many stories, and pondered the ways of the world. It was always fascinating conversation.
Work-wise, APL was always our shared devotion, but I also got Dan involved in promoting a network security product, developed by our IPSA colleagues in Australia. We did our best at sales pitches to business and government levels in Québec. After much effort, we managed to make a major sale in Montréal. But more important than the business we did, those opportunities gave me further reasons to visit with Dan and his family over the years, which was always a great pleasure.
Dan’s favourite place was his Father’s cabin, a small shack in the mountains north of Québec City. I don’t know the full history of the place, but I’m sure it was the spot for many family events and memories from his early days onwards. It was only leased, and in fact Dan tried for years to convince the owner to sell the property, but was unsuccessful. I was lucky enough to visit several times, in several seasons. One Spring weekend, I think I met half his family there. One year, we revelled at the Québec Carnaval d’Hiver, then snow-shoed and skied our way up the mountain to dig out the cabin – a Winter wonderland buried under 4 feet of snow. It was anything but comfortable or civilized, but to Dan it was a paradise.
Dan never hesitated to try new experiences, and there were many. He travelled extensively and as often as possible, to both well-known and exotic destinations. He took on new languages just for fun, as many have observed. Besides the French, English, and Spanish he spoke with ease, he was a serious student of several others including Danish and Russian. As we all know, he had an immediate rapport with people all over the globe. It was remarkable to watch.
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I am Denise, Daniel’s mother. I read all the above comments, and am filled with thanks to all of you who wrothe so beautifully about him. I realized that we did not really know our son and brother.
Daniel had left so happy… This trip was «la réalisation du rêve de sa vie». Adieu Daniel, nous t’aimons, et tu seras toujours présent dans nos coeurs. The Baronet-Bellegarde-Lacroix Families
Nos sincères condoléances Linda pour le décès de ton conjoint. Nous pensons à toi dans cette épreuve, bon courage à toi et à ta fille.
Here we are at the “Hoop and Grapes” at our regular monthly meeting and it’s strange that Dan won’t be joining us again.
The last time he came was two months ago when he took us further into the arcane world of “regex” explaining it in a way noone else seemed able to do.
Dan was one of our most regular attendees, coming whenever he was in England and even scheduling his visits to coincide and he was arguably our most frequent and popular presenter as well as being a good friend to us all.
We’ll miss him.
Message à Mme Denise Lacroix et à toute la famille
Il est difficile d’accepter qu’une personne qu’on aime quitte ce monde définitivement, si brusquement.
Que les souvenirs des bons moments passés en sa compagnie apaisent votre chagrin et vous donnent du courage pour les jours à venir.
Meilleur cousin ou meilleur ami?
Les deux j’en suis certain, considérant la douleur qui m’habite depuis que j’ai appris le triste événement. Je réalise à quel point nous étions très proches, encore plus que je ne pouvais l’imaginer.
Tellement d’événements et de connaissances partagés avec lui, de rires et de confidences; il restera dans ma mémoire pour toujours, et il me manquera aussi pour toujours.
Merci Dan de m’avoir inclus dans ta vie
I always enjoyed Dan’s articles and workshops. My wife Gina met first met Dan 2003 when I chaired the SIGAPL conference in San Diego. She said Dan always made her feel welcome whenever she accompanied me to a Dyalog conference.
DAN WAS GREAT. Dan, Kai Jaeger, Ken Chakahwata and I found ourselves sharing a flat in Copenhagen in 2005. I already knew Ken and Kai were great. Ken was my fantastic mentor at IPSA and Kai was my formidable customer at Dyadic. We all got on together really well, despite being very different animals. Dan and Ken were in the ZOO at IPSA. I never made it into the ZOO. Kai is a species unto himself.
Dan and I had some adventures before we met. He was the only other person I had ever met who had been to San Andres. Together in Copenhagen we had some adventures too. One evening we went North to see his “mother”. She was always to be found drinking heavily amongst her like-minded friends in a pub in the northern reaches of Copenhagen. During the day she sold her lace creations by the Little Mermaid – I bought one once for an extortionate sum – but liquor is not cheap in Denmark. I don’t know how or when it happened, but she adopted Dan as her own and was always delighted to see him. I felt honoured to have been introduced. Another time we headed South to Christianshavn which seemed like a great adventure to me.
In the flat Kai would have his huge donkey salad bowl filled with salad, Ken would have his tin of fish, I would eat any old scraps, but Dan would make a proper meal. We had a party once. Dan cooked an enormous pan of purple muscles the like of which I had only seen on the beach in Scotland, and never considered actually eating. Dan spoke French which made it all OK. He also spoke Danish and carried his dictionary wherever he went. I was very impressed, having only a smattering of Latin to my name. I could say “Morn” and “Tak” and that was about it, whereas Dan could chat up girls in their own language. He introduced me to his fun-filled friends and colleagues which left me agog and speechless for months. I could never get close to the Danes like Dan could.
Dan was a natural, but not without tricks. I am the gullible type. JD once told me that the word “gullible” is not in the dictionary and I considered the possibility for some while. So Dan was able to trick and outsmart me on several occasions, most of which I have banished to the subconscious. I was supposed to know something about Bayes theorem but Dan fooled me with Monty Hall and his goats. Characteristically, Kai wrote a program to prove the point. I don’t know what I was thinking of, all I can say is that if Monty had not opened the door then I would be right.
Our flat was graced by the presence of Linda and Myriam when they came to visit. We all were on our best behaviour – Ken showed up more often than usual, Kai was politer than usual and I did my best to appear normal. I think they enjoyed their stay. We certainly enjoyed their company. Dan’s other daughter also came to Denmark to play in a gig in Odense. I saw a poster of her and was again impressed by Dan’s understated multi-dimensionality. I met Linda again in Berlin in 2010 and already we seemed like old friends.
After Denmark, Dan occasionally dropped into our house in Basingstoke, on bike or on foot. One time he invited me to go up in a helicopter with him. That was an amazing experience. We flew over my house and waved to my children in the garden. We will never forget that. And I shall never forget Dan. He was a kindred spirit. I would not go so far as to suggest that he was not professional, but he managed to combine work and play, head and heart, in a way that I heartily approve. Dan was a great friend and will be sorely missed by many people.
I met Daniel Baronet around 1980 at an small office of I P Sharp in the heart of Copenhagen, where he had a helper named Morten Cromberg. I got some APL manuals that I still have and read with great interest. At a Dyalog meeting a few years ago, he demonstrated his language skills by conversating me in danish.
The last time i met him was at a videomeeting 11 feb. with me in Copenhage and Daniel, Morten, Adam and Brian in Toronto where I had the pleasure to demonstrate my polyomino app.
I never met Dan but have always been aware of him. This is such a tragic loss and especially painful to lose someone from the fold. My condolences to those Dan leaves behind; may God give you fortitude to cope with your loss.
I am so sorry to hear of Dan’s untimely death. I had known him for many years, and always appreciated his wry humour, smart observations, and of course his skill in programming and problem-solving. He will be greatly missed by many colleagues. My condolences to his family.
I first met Dan at the Dyalog Office when I travelled up for their APL training course. He was very welcoming to me as a newbie to the APL community. While I didn’t know him nearly as well as many others did, he was a very easy guy to talk to and news of his death was very tragic and shocking. I feel honoured to know that I was in his final workshop.
Thank you for all that you taught me Dan.
I too am shocked to learn of Dan’s tragic death. I came to know Dan through my interactions with Dyalog. There I soon became aware of his programming skills. I really valued his gentle patience with me when I would ask him one of my many often trivial APL questions. He was always ready to help me. He was certainly a man of many skills and interests.
A person too soon lost.
My sincere condolences to his wife and family.
I heard the very sad news a few days ago and it still seems surreal. I only recently met Dan at the small APL get together he organized earlier this year in Montreal. It was a very pleasant evening with a small number of people sharing stories over a few beers. Dan immediately struck me as an unique person. Super friendly and soft spoken with a very quick wit. I am relatively new to APL so I was quite intimidated by the depth of APL knowledge and experience around the table but Dan made sure I felt welcome and included. Later on during the year in the summertime I dropped by his house to pick up a copy of an APL book he had contributed to. I was just expecting to get the book at his door be on my way but he actually invited me for a beer and we ended up chatting in his backyard, enjoying the sun talking about “life the universe and everything” while he told many stories of his travels, his airplane and his other hobbies. He was also interested in hearing the long non-linear “journey” that brought me to Montreal and how I became interested in APL. In addition he took time to give me some hints on a particular APL problem I had been facing regarding moving code between different APL versions. He actually didn’t come out and tell me the solution but rather gently pointed me in the right direction so that I could try and solve the problem myself, which shows that he was a very experienced educator. I’m sorry I did not get to know Dan a little better or sooner. He was a rare gifted individual who was extremely generous with his time, taking time with people to connect with them. My deepest condolences to his family and his many friends around the world. Brad
Daniel will be sorely missed by many people. We live on the West Coast of Florida and have very few (if any) visitors who drop in to see us in their own plane. Daniel and Rick did so fairly recently and were most welcome. Daniel was a popular and talented addition to the IPSA Montreal office in the dim and distant past and his enthusiasm has never really waned. We send our heartfelt sympathies to Daniel’s family…….Ian and Audrey Sharp
I was Dan’s barber only for the past 2 years, and my only regret his that I did not know him that much exept when he talked about his riding adventures…because I ride has well.
I just read all of his fellow coworkors and friends comments and it reminds me that we have to pay attention to people and appriciate there presence because you never know if that might be the last time you speak with them, fairwell M. Dan
At LO Skolen one year Gitte had organised for some Opera singers to come into the banquet and get us geeks singing. I discovered that Dan could sing really well.
Dan was one of the great masters of APL. It was always a pleasure to share an idea with him; always available, always friendly, always interesting are his views. For us young aplers a landmark. You miss Dan.
I only met Dan in person a few times and never had the privilege to get to know him very well. When I did (at APL meetings), we rarely spoke about APL. He had a knack for making you comfortable, relaxed and – before you know it – smiling.
And yet he pops up in my life almost every week as I come across yet another tool or application he has written. His works has inspired and enabled me to work in ways I couldn’t before.
We stand on the shoulders of giants. Dan was a great one.
Dan was one of those APLers whose material was always worth reading, talks attending, or simply opinions taking on board. Just one of his most recent changes was the invaluable work to introduce the ‘square-bracket commands’ to extend the basic APL WS functionality for developers. I will remember him whenever I use them and miss his face, if not his presence, at future gatherings. Ride on…
Merci Daniel pour tous tes conseils et tes réponses à mes questions aussi simplistes quelles soient. Tu avais un grand coeur que tu partageais avec tous ceux que tu rencontrais.
Dans notre tristesse, on trouve un réconfort en pensant que tu nous as quitté en faisant ce que tu aimais. Nous aurions aimé que tu restes avec nous plus longtemps.
Tu vas nous manquer…
I was on holiday when I got an email from Rick Procter to call him as soon as possible. It was unlike Rick, who is normally calm and collected to send an email with a rather urgent tone. I knew something was not quite right. Little did I expect to hear such terribly tragic news. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t.
Only weeks earlier we were having a pint in Glasgow and he was telling me all about his upcoming motor cycle trip. I envied him. I still do. Dan was a free-spirit, a kind-hearted soul. And I always loved his joie de vivre attitude and happy go lucky demeanor.
I’ve known Dan for close to 20 years. Rick and Dan introduced me to APL and although Dan stopped doing consulting work for us many years ago, we stayed in touch. He was always happy to go for a beer. Just this past summer, he organized a small gathering of APL’ers in the Montreal area, not so much to discuss APL, but just to get together to hang out, get out of the office, and chill out. He was fun that way. And in many other ways. He was kind and caring, always asking how things are going in my life and listening with genuine interest.
My heart goes out to Linda and his daughters. We share their pain and although we mourn his death, we also celebrate his life.
Dan, you are one-of-a-kind and you always found a way to win people over with your boyish charm and your contagious smile. I will miss you my friend. Rest in peace and we’ll catch up again one day.
Unbelievable. Very sad. My condolences to his wife whom I had the pleasure to meet in Glasgow.
Dan mentioned in Glasgow that he and a friend were embarking on a motorcycle adventure down to Central America and passing through the Bay Area (where my wife & I live) on the way back. I guess this was that trip.
As a user of Dyalog APL I have a lot to thank Dan for. The utilities and features he contributed to the interpreter have been invaluable in some of our developments. He was a brilliant coder and always had time to spare if you needed to ask him something or talk through some code.
Dan was a great guy and never failed to make the effort to come and chat about things either I or he had been working on. We have lost not only a fundamental member in the Dyalog APL community but also a friend.
Thank you for all of your contributions and help Dan.