I asked Adrienne if I could write something for Nick's memorial service. She gratiously agreed. This is what I wrote.
January 16th 2021
In memory of Nick Lauter
Nick was a great friend to many, many people. Those of us counted among them know how fortunate we are. When he moved to the University of Illinois, a work colleague told me that we would get along well and that he was looking for a place to live. The apartment above me was open and we got it sorted. Not only did we get along, but we became close friends. His infectious curiosity, kindness, and eagerness to share his knowledge and interests was extraordinary.
He taught me how to skate board so that I could try the board he had attached a sail to. He was a patient teacher. Nick got a bunch of broken mountain bikes from the University and made a working one for me. He took me to Wisconsin for camping and white water rafting. It is a bit incredible that this uncoordinated geek in his early thirties managed to keep up (sort of).
I shared my love of Free Software philosophy and helped him to build his first computer from mail order parts. We installed Debian GNU/Linux on it. We shared many meals together and spent a lot of time hanging out -- talking about science and life.
Nick told me about the Maize Genetics community with enthusiasm. He was a top notch ambassador and personally demonstrated the best attributes we see in that community. Little did I know how much this group would mean to me some years later.
It was during our time as neighbors that Nick and Adrienne were courting. He would go visit her many weekends and return to Urbana with a bounce in his step and much to talk about. You know what an excited Nick was like! I heard a lot about his hopes and dreams for a future with Adrienne. Long before I met her in person, I felt like I knew her pretty well. Nick and I been friends for about a year when he asked me to be his best man. When I responded with "Are you sure?", he was. It was one of my life's special privileges to do that.
Now and then we would catch up at Maize Meetings, sharing what we'd been up to since we last met. Often reminiscing about old times in the Urbana neighborhood with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. What fun we had with our friends there! I now live in New Zealand. I have been looking forward to the time when Nick and Adrienne would visit Robyn and me here. He'd love this place and the natural beauty of the outdoors. We'd fill each other in on what has happened in the time between, have endless bbq's, and laugh together.
By the time Nick and Adrienne got married, I had moved on to Cornell. We did not see each other often, but when we did it was just like the early days of our friendship. Over the years, it seemed to me that Nick was living the life with Adrienne and their family that he hoped and dreamed about in Urbana. Nobody deserved it more.
Aotearoa – New Zealand
Before writing, I looked through my photo gallery for photos with Nick in them. A small collection are below. The one with him leaping into the pool kind of sums up his approach to life.