[Humanist] 29.789 Sebastian Rahtz 1955-2016

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Mar 18 07:36:15 CET 2016

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 789.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2016 06:27:42 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: R.I.P. Sebastian Rahtz 13 February 1955 - 15 March 2016
        In-Reply-To: <56EB4053.3070901 at it.ox.ac.uk>

Dear colleagues,

Our one-time colleague and pioneer with me of Humanist, Sebastian Rahtz, 
has died. Some here will have seen James Cummings' brief notice on the 
Digital Classicist list, reproduced below as the second included 
message. But such was (or is?) his unforgettable and enlightening spirit 
that he seldom left quietly nor left only once. A few of us remaining on 
Humanist since the early days will remember the first departure, 
celebrated on 30 March 1989, less than two years after Humanist began 
when I posted the obit of SPQR (his adopted initials), also included 
below. Those were heady days, when those of us around then were figuring 
out what Humanist might be, indeed building what now is called 'digital 
humanities'. Sebastian left Humanist also just before the great 1989 
conference in Toronto, first joint event of the ACH and ALLC. Sebastian, 
it seems, was one to leave just before things happened, while they were 
still full of the potential only some of which inevitably was realised. 
And now he has left for good, as far as we know, just before Humanist 
celebrates its 30th birthday, on 7 May of this year. About the time of 
his first leaving he left behind the attached image to commemorate his 
time here. I send it along as commemoration of his time here in a 
different sense and as a stimulus to historical reflections.

Farewell, friend of Humanist!


> Humanist Mailing List, Vol. 2, No. 787. Thursday, 30 Mar 1989.
> Date: 30 March 1989
> From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY at vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
> Subject: obit SPQR
> I am very sorry to report that an original and aboriginal spirit has
> departed Humanist, Sebastian Rahtz. I am never glad when someone decides
> to quit this arena of useful exchanges, vigorous discussion, and
> intellectual combat cum lovemaking, but I especially regret the
> departure of my friend and constant thorn-in-the-side, who has decided
> that our concerns are not his. I had hoped that singlehandedly he would
> convince us all of archaeology's rightful place among the computational
> humanities, but he has decided not to try any longer. Since I have
> reacted publically more to the thorn-pricks than to the friendship, you
> may well wonder at this expression of regret and suspect its sincerity.
> To remain sane, however, an editor of Humanist must have a severe case
> of multiple personalities. Sebastian's network persona was one of mine.
> The following has been extracted from his note to me.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Date: Thu, 30 Mar 89 08:01:40 EST
> Message-Id: <670.8903301301 at caxton.cm.soton.ac.uk>
> Subject: HUMANIST desubscription
> Could you remove my subscription to HUMANIST, please? I feel a bit
> bad about this, since I have been faithfully reading it and writing to
> it since it started, but I find that it simply occupies too much time
> these days to think about whats on there, and 99% of it is irrelevant
> to what I do - I'd hate to become `one of the quiet ones'! If my job
> ever changes so that I am supposed to know about humanities computing,
> I'll resubscribe.
> No doubt if you publicise this on HUMANIST, there will be much waving
> of hats!
> Sebastian


> -------- Forwarded Message --------
> Subject: [DIGITALCLASSICIST] R.I.P. Sebastian Rahtz 13 February 1955 - 15 March 2016
> Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2016 23:40:03 +0000
> From: James Cummings <James.Cummings at IT.OX.AC.UK>
> Reply-To: The Digital Classicist List <DIGITALCLASSICIST at JISCMAIL.AC.UK>
> Organization: IT Services, University of Oxford
> Some of you have already heard, but it is with great sadness that
> I tell you that our friend and colleague Sebastian Rahtz passed
> away on the 15 March 2016. He discovered last autumn that he had
> late-stage brain cancer and shortly thereafter retired to spend
> his remaining time with his family. Our thoughts are with his
> wife Leonor, two daughters, and other family. There will be a
> ceremony for Sebastian on the 24th March at 13:45 at the Oxford
> Crematorium, Bayswater Rd, Oxford OX3 9RZ. It will be mostly for
> family but anyone is welcome.They would like to invite anyone
> else for a memorial on the 24th March at 15:00pm at the Friends
> Meeting House, 42 St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LW. They invite you to
> share this with anyone who may be interested.
> Donations in Sebastian’s memory may be made to Sobell House
> Hospice (http://www.sobellhouse.org/) or Macmillan Cancer Care
> (http://www.macmillan.org.uk/), or care of The Individual Funeral
> Company, 86 Rose Hill, Oxford, OX4 4HX.
> I have set up a book of condolences at
> http://goo.gl/forms/BjJRBOQho3 and a google photos shared album
> at https://goo.gl/photos/gK8gsXZ3tVoTuG5w9 (which you can join
> and add your own photos). These will be provided to his family at
> a later date.
> -James
> --
> Dr James Cummings, James.Cummings at it.ox.ac.uk
> Academic IT Services, University of Oxford

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