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The Webfooted Astronomer - March 2002


From the Presidentís Pen . . . Farewell, Ken

By Mary Ingersoll

A farewell to Ken Applegate (as presented at Kenís memorial service at the UW Faculty Center, Feb. 8, 2002) . . .

It is always difficult for me to say ìgood byeî to a friend about to embark on a long journey-far more so when I know that my friend will not be returning. Standing here before you today, Iím sad for my loss but overjoyed that so many of you have come here to celebrate Kenís life. I think that if he could see us now, heíd laugh at the commotion heíd created. When I first met Ken, the feature that stood out the most was that smile of his. He never seemed to go anywhere without it. And there was always that mischievous sparkle in his eye.

I remember when our club had a meeting in the Planetarium. We were treated to a virtual tour of the Seattle Skyline at night - how it would have looked like if there were no clouds. Since it was December we were starving for sky, and even a virtual sky was very impressive. We brought sleeping bags so we could lie on the floor and enjoy the tour. Ken was lying next to me when cosmology came up and he said, ìOh, itís just turtle all the way down.î I said ìWhat?î There were some giggles coming from someone on the other side of him, and I wanted in on the joke. So, Ken told me about this place invented by British author Terry Pratchett, a flat world that was resting on the backs of four elephants who were standing on a giant Turtle flying through space. He said that the books were far more entertaining than most of the cosmological theories being thrown about lately. So, out of curiosity I read one, and thatís all it took to get me addicted.

Whenever we e-mailed, there would always be some comment about wizardry or turtles. He was our web master, and I called him the web wizard in our communications. He had spent most of last year working on redesigning our web site, and the last time I saw Ken was when I presented him with an award at our annual banquet on January 26. I didnít realize that when I shook his hand that night, that it would be the last time weíd be laughing together. Iím going to miss Ken a lot, not just because he was so involved in the club, but because he was a great guy who was fun to have around. Iíll never be able to read another Pratchett novel without remembering Ken. And when Iím laughing through the next new book, Ken will be there laughing with me.

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