August 26, 2009 was a sad day for some in our profession, seeing the untimely demise of highly-respected and popular professional linguist Richard Benham in Australia at the age of 52.
Richard was well-known to many members of the Proz.com community for the extent of his knowledge, his integrity, wit and the unique character traits that emanated from his entries in forum postings and terminology questions.
As a member of the UK Chartered Institute of Linguists, he held their DipTrans award for translation from both and French and German into English.
Richard’s fields of speciality were primarily in technical, including IT (he had experience as a programmer), automotive, electrical engineering and marketing work of a technical nature.
His elder brother Chris wrote: “Richard was the 'great brain' of the family, and the only one to have mastered more than one language. He had massive, massive knowledge and some great personal qualities. He could remember some of the things that happened in my childhood that I'd forgotten. He was the family champion at card games.”
Richards’ mother Daphne added in a letter to a colleague: “From early childhood, Richard loved learning and won state-wide prizes for both French and mathematics twice. He had suffered a fall last year on wet Geneva cobblestones and broke his left shoulder, which was a personal and financial disaster, severely affecting his ability to be present at the University of Geneva at the time. He was happy to be back in Adelaide uni doing a maths course and co-writing a paper on Dirac Delta Logic with an old friend who was a professor of philosophy, as well as finding time to do a bit of translating. It was all blue sky, or so we thought. Richard had a recurrence of stomach problems and the day after he had had both an endoscopy and colonoscopy he started vomiting in the night, subsequently passing away.”
Comments on an ‘R.I.P.’ forum on the Proz.com site included these statements:
“I knew him only through this site and he was an inspiring and good person.”“I am shocked and saddened to hear of Richard's passing. Richard will be sadly missed by the many colleagues who got to know him over the years when he was an active member of the site. His outstanding skills as a translator, his sparkling wit and his frankness and honesty made him a colleague so many of us admired.”
“Oh damnit. This hits me pretty hard. We had emailed extensively a few years ago but were out of touch more recently. Am very sad to hear this and extend my sincere condolences to his family.”
“A much valued and respected colleague. I shall miss him.”
“He was someone I admired enormously, who was clearly a very talented person with excellent translation skills. I'm very saddened by the news of his death and I am sorry that I never had the opportunity to meet him in person.”
“I had many great collegial discussions with Richard on KudoZ and respected him very much. I always valued his frank opinion and feel his contributions really helped.
Richard was truly a gentleman and a scholar. His passing is a huge loss to the translating community.”
Part of Richard’s integrity was indeed in his frankness, which led to his activities on the Proz.com site being restricted. Some comments about this were edited out of the above forum; a tasteless action which caused disgust among several members.