Cheerful, friendly, warm, intelligent and dynamic. That’s how Thierry was like. Shocking, unexpected, terrible, devastating and painful. That’s how his loss has been.
In a world ruled by deadlines, bureaucracy and impossible requirements, Thierry was a breath of fresh air. His way of seeing life, in a calm and relaxed way, enjoying every minute, made him an incredible person, who was impossible not to love.
He was also a peculiar professional, as a philosopher working in the computer science field, his way of solving problems was both surprising and effective. Thierry enjoyed his work so much that it was almost impossible to find him at home. He spent his life traveling from conference to conference, if possible by train, all around the globe. Thierry used to say that trains were a very nice office to work from while watching the landscape passing by.
He was a pillar of the Linguistic Linked Data community, both at the scientific and human level. His contributions to the growth of Linguistic Linked Data as a discipline cannot be overestimated. His work, especially his recent contributions to the representation of sign language data as Linked Data, was pioneering and of the highest quality.
Thierry was restless in his promotion of the field and was key to many of the different initiatives which have led to its growth over the last few years; in this he will be simply irreplaceable. This is not to sell him short on his other scientific achievements in so many different fields of computational linguistics or, more broadly, his importance for promoting language resources and technologies at an European and international level. His CV is truly intimidating, even though he was the very opposite on a personal level.
Thierry was renowned for his friendliness and for being extremely generous with his time. Younger colleagues, particularly, could always count on Thierry to put them at ease and bring out the best in them, as his numerous collaborations will easily attest. Outside of the professional field, Thierry was also an inexhaustible source of knowledge of both music and cinema, and he used to share his favourite artists with his colleagues, such as the composer Wim Mertens or the filmmaker Federico Fellini. To say that Thierry was an exceptional human being, is an understatement.
The outpourings of grief at his passing have demonstrated that as a person he was universally beloved and well considered. It is difficult, deeply painful even, to contemplate future conferences and events without the presence of Thierry, to think that we won’t see his face light up in warmth and genuine pleasure at seeing us again, but he would undoubtedly have wanted us to make the effort, as well as to raise a glass or two in his memory. To quote an old Irish saying, we shall not see his like again.