Marieke van der Horst, in memoriam,

October 19, 1928 - December 19, 2007

 
 

Marieke, my Dutch cousin by marriage, was a physician. The mother of three lively children and numerous grandchildren was unforgettable. When I first met her in the early 1960s she was young, robustly beautiful with hair like spun gold. Multilingual and  brilliant, she was incredibly hospitable yet outspoken and passionate about the world. Her incisive mind recognized cant and called it what it was. She did not mince words. In Leiden, where I met her first, she took my then husband -- Arnold Koslow, philosopher and historian of science--to Ehrenfest’s house, where, among others, Einstein, Planck, and Heisenberg, had resided. Each had written their names on the walls of a room, and, if I am not mistaken, mathematical proofs were still visible too. Marieke’s wide-ranging interests and contacts made this extraordinary visit possible. My connection with Marieke resumed after a lengthy hiatus. By then her daughter Susanna’s children Tessa and Noa reflected the light of their grandmother. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to have met Marieke again after so many years and sorely regret that her life was shortened by an inexorable illness. I will always miss her; for me she is an embodiment of the best of The Netherlands. The world is so much poorer for her physical absence but the good that she performed will survive in her family, friends, colleagues, and those fortunate to have known her.