We hear of horrible news on a daily basis, but we don’t often think much of the impact of that horrible news on the people most closely related to the news. Of course, this occasionally gets turned on its head when we find out some shocking news about someone that we do know or do care about. The closer the relationship is, the more devastating the news, which happens to be the case today.
The scholarly communications community received some shocking news yesterday. Sadly, Lee Dirks and his wife Judy died Tuesday during a car accident in Peru earlier this week.
Lee was an enthusiastic, energetic, and fun-loving member of our community. He was also extremely accomplished having spent many years engaging the scholarly community in Microsoft’s work, research as well as representing our community’s interests within the halls of Microsoft.
After receiving his MLS from UNC Chapel Hill, Lee worked at Columbia and OCLC before moving to the corporate library at Microsoft in the mid-1990s. Lee’s background in libraries and archives served him well at Microsoft, where he eventually brought his skills to bear within Tony Hey’s team at Microsoft Research, where Lee was recently named Director of Portfolio Strategy. Lee was a leader within Microsoft on issues such as preservation, access to science, and the future of information distribution.
Outside of work, Lee loved his family, especially his kids. We spoke often of the challenges of raising kids when spending as much time out of the office and with the community and how we strategized mixing the two. He was fun-loving and always searching for a way to have a good time, be that getting away to the Final Four, a poker game, or an evening at a specialty brew pub.
Lee and Judy’s two children weren’t on this trip and survive their parents. As a community, we should all hold them and the rest of their family in our prayers.
Lee will also be missed terribly by his colleagues at Microsoft, his friends, and his many colleagues in the scholarly publishing world. Lee contributed a lot of his life to our community and we are all better off for his contributions.
We will all miss you, your ideas, and your big smile, Lee!