Patrick Purcell RIP

Patrick Purcell died in early February, 2007: just a few days before his 78th birthday. Here are some of my memories of this true character.

I got to know Patrick during my time working on my PhD in the Intelligent and Interactive Systems group at Imperial College, 1999-2004. During those long years of late nights on level 10, Patrick could always be counted on for a helping hand.

Indeed, Patrick was renowned for inhabiting the labs late in the evening long after most faculty had departed. Thus Patrick was always on hand for giving advice to PhD students in need. He had a knack as for seeing through weak argumentation, and I’ll personally never forget the day he (constructively) tore apart my first draft of my PhD abstract. Wow, he was cutting (literally) … and my thesis readers thank him for it.

Other things I remember Patrick for:

  • Chatting up waitresses half a century years his junior, spark in his eye, whilst on group dinners in South Kensington. His junior colleagues greatly admired his gift of the gab.
  • At the lowest point of my PhD, Patrick was one of those who encouraged me to submit a paper I wasn’t happy with, but which consequentially got in to a prestigious conference
  • Having the most gloriously messy computer desktop and office. Messy desk, tidy mind.
  • For occupying hours of my – and other student colleagues’ – time diagnosing issues on his PC. Patrick insisted on relying upon an old Windows 95 PC and an even older Sun Sparc for doing his email and web browsing . It was the least we could do.
  • Along with about 10 other PhD students, I was based in lab 1005, the old EEE cad lab, which was right opposite Patrick’s office. Patrick regularly popped in to use the 1005 fridge and I swear he was the one responsible for leaving not quite empty milk cartons on the shelf next to the fridge. These quickly started to smell. I never caught him though, so the mystery remains.

Patrick – you’ll be sorely missed. Here he is on the left of this pic checking out the photographer, and not at all exicted by whats intriguing his colleagues on the computer screen.

Patrick on the left

You can read more memories of Patrick on Sunny’s blog post.

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