Professor Pierre du Bois passed away on June 23rd 2007. He was a valued member of the faculty at HEI for fifteen years. He will be greatly missed.
The scramble for courses and the near disaster faced by some students regarding course selection (especially those of us trying to complete our Masters this year) has subsided. Now we are plagued by a different kind of challenge: staying atop our reading assignments and ensuring that we submit all our papers on time. Yet, amidst this flurry of activity, a certain sadness lingers in the air. There is evidently something missing this winter. Professor Pierre du Bois is no longer with us at HEI. The summer semester of 2007 had barely ended, when the news of his passing came as a cruel shock. The absence of lively Professor du Bois is noticeable for those of us who were privileged to know him. He was a valued part of the faculty of HEI since 1992. Over these past two decades, Professor du Bois has taken numerous students under his tutelage as he has supervised countless theses.
What was remarkable about this man was his warm personality. Long before I even laid foot into his class room, he would greet me in the halls. Some students report that they were drawn to taking his class, not necessarily because of the subject matter, but because of his welcoming presence. Those who chose to participate in his seminars were not disappointed. There was never a dull moment, as Professor du Bois’ lectures were often complimented with personal anecdotes of encounters with former members of terrorist groups and other interesting stories. He once recounted how he was able to locate a terrorist, who had become the owner of a little restaurant in Italy. Over a plate of spaghetti – not showing the least bit of trepidation – Professor du Bois tried to extricate information from this individual. It was not a very successful endeavour, as he was met with a hostile response, and received few answers to his questions. Nevertheless, this story demonstrates his sense of adventure and courage. He had a contagious enthusiasm and energy that would often boost the spirits of students who arrived to class sleep-deprived.
Family, friends, professors and students gathered to commemorate the memory of Professor du Bois on October 9th in AJF. Various colleagues and HEI faculty spoke of how they had been touched by this person. The most moving moment of the evening was when Professor du Bois’ wife shared a few thoughts about her husband. It was evident that there was much love between them and that Pierre du Bois was not only wonderful professor, but a loving and caring husband as well. Madame du Bois informed us that a foundation will be created in memory of her husband in order to provide scholarships for students at HEI. His name will thus live on. This individual has certainly left his mark on HEI and will not be forgotten. His reassuring smile and booming voice will certainly be missed by many of us.
As we launch into a new year of research, heated academic debates, and the competitive quest for internships, it is important to keep things in perspective. Professor du Bois’ sudden and abrupt departure reminds us of the fragility of life. We do not know what tomorrow holds and should strive to live each moment to the fullest.
Lac Leviathan, HEI Students’ Magazine,
Volume 2, no.1, November 2007