A Sad Day for Science Writers: Laura Van Dam's Obituary
Her approach to the end was amazing and thoughtful. About two months ago, she called me to talk about her death. She hoped it wouldn't come for a few more years, because she desperately wanted to see her son off to college. Laura's own mother died after Laura went away to school; she knew that would probably be easier for him than the alternative. But she also knew the end might happen sooner than that. We talked for almost two hours about life and death, about living with brain damage (my father has written quite a bit about his own experience with brain damage, and Laura's illness caused extensive brain damage). All I can say is, Laura was one amazing woman many many people will miss -- those who knew her will miss her energy, her excitement and brilliance. Those who didn't know her will miss everything she did behind the scenes for the science writers of the world.
If you're an NASW member, I urge you to read the tributes to her on the NASW site. Her obituary and the many responses to it are there:
There's also a wonderful detailed obituary in the Boston Globe.
"An independent book editor, Laura spent many years as a senior editor with Houghton-Mifflin, where she specialized in books related to science, technology, medicine, and health. She worked with authors including Natalie Angier (Woman: An Intimate Geography), Daniel Schacter (The Seven Sins of Memory), J. Richard Gott (Time Travel Through Einstein's Universe), and Steve Olson (Mapping Human History, a National Book Award finalist) ... Laura served as a senior editor with the MIT publication Technology Review and as a newspaper reporter.
She is survived by her husband, Howard Saxner, and son, David Saxner. A memorial service is planned for Sunday, April 30, at 2 p.m. at the First Parish Unitarian Church, Harvard Square, Cambridge, Mass. Donations may be made in Laura's name to the Pappas Center for Neuro-Oncology c/o Massachusetts General Hospital, Development Office, 165 Cambridge St., Suite 600, Boston, MA 02114."
Happy travels, Laura ... we'll miss you.