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A voice that will be missed.

A tribute to Luke Foster.

It’s his calm, reassuring voice I’ll miss most. After having, very much in accordance with his personality, bravely managed to ‘keep calm and carry on’ while fighting against his illness and enduring the different therapies that went with it, Luke Foster passed away a few days ago.

Although the news did not come as a surprise after his much-regretted absence at the Bilbao conference in September, it still came as a shock.

I will miss his voice. I heard it first around ten years ago and immediately liked it. Over all these years he spent at the UACES office, his voice invariably was, in meetings or on the telephone, the perfectly reliable voice of reason and common sense, which I always consulted with pleasure, knowing he would kindly point out the details I had omitted or the one difficulty I had failed to anticipate. I must admit that in many of these talks, I would have wanted this voice to speak out more loudly, for the sake of the poor non-native speakers in the room, but raising his voice simply would have been incompatible with his natural modesty, discretion and calmness.

Luke Foster, Angers, 6 September 2009.

As our friend Simon Usherwood has pointed out so rightly in his tribute, Luke ’embodied so much of why UACES is what it is’. Unlike so many people you encounter in academia he held no stereotypes whatsoever against people or places; he was open-minded towards profiles and ideas that were slightly ‘out-of-the-box’; he listened to everybody before giving his opinion.

Luke liked the adjective ‘straightforward’. I heard him use this word many times in our exchanges, and it describes exactly how I will remember him. He was an expert in ‘getting things done’, and I will not forget how I have personally benefited tremendously from this capacity.

Our institute here in Angers has lost a great support and a good friend. The snapshot on the left shows Luke in a meeting during the 2009 annual conference that took place in our school. I will have a meeting next week in the same room, make sure I’ll sit at the same place, and raise my coffee mug ‘à la mémoire d’un bon ami’.

Albrecht Sonntag.

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