This evening was the celebration, and a celebration it was. His companion, Nina, said he didn't want a funeral – he wanted a party. And I agree. I knew Herman as a colleague for the entire 12 years I worked at the community college from when I hired on until his death. He had a great sense of humor, and he loved a good joke. He enjoyed socializing after-hours, and we kept saying we ought to get together more often, but it never happened.
At work, he and Nina were both colleagues; at the campus where I do most of my teaching, my cubicle is between his and hers. It was always fun interacting with the two of them.
After his death, I learned things about Herman that I wish I had known before. For example, I knew that he was an outdoorsy sort, but I didn't learn the extent until I read his obituary – he was an avid backpacker and adventure traveler, and he had climbed all of Colorado's fourteeners. And, for a while, he had worked in Los Alamos.
At the celebration, I learned even more. I learned how extensive his outdoor adventuring had been, how he had been to the Himalayas, and how once in Europe, he had fallen off a mountain and broken his neck, but had pulled his tent around him for warmth and been rescued the next day. I learned that he was also an avid photographer, mostly taking pictures of nature, although he also had some delicious art photos of his second ex-wife.
Herman was a practical joker, I already knew, but I heard about jokes he had pulled, such as making a gift of a Noam Chomsky t-shirt to a colleague who wasn't a Chomsky fan, in such a way that the recipient of the shirt didn't realize Herman was joking. I heard about how, shortly after he had worked in Los Alamos and had relocated to Albuquerque, he was a fan of a particular Albuquerque pizza place, and he would get pizza from there and hustle it up to Los Alamos so his friends could enjoy it. I heard about how he was fond of "anything with a two-stroke engine" – including chain saws, which were a particular favorite of his.
Later, I was talking with Nina, and she and I agreed that this ought to be an annual event, the Herman Jottmann Annual CNM Faculty Party, complete with chain saw competitions. Yeah, that would be good.