In Memoriam: Jürgen Schönhut
It was with great sadness that we learnt of the sudden death of Jürgen Schönhut on 23rd November, 2005 after a short illness.
Jürgen obtained his PhD in 1972 for a thesis on computational linguistics. He then changed direction and entered the field of computer graphics,working first in the computer centre at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg from mid 1972 to end of 1985. He moved to Darmstadt in January 1986 as a head of department at the Fraunhofer-Institut für Graphische Datenverarbeitung (IGD), and became a member of the Institute’s management team. His research interests moved into the highly complex areas of printing and the integration of press, pre- and post-press.
Jürgen was a staunch supporter of Eurographics throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, becoming chairman of the Association from 1991 to 1992. During this time, he oversaw the move of Computer Graphics Forum to its present publisher and handled a number financial issues within the Association. It was during his chairmanship that the membership fee was last increased! It is fitting that Jürgen was able to be present in Dublin for the 25th Anniversary celebrations of Eurographics and to take part in the Chairmen’s dinner and photo session.
It was in the field of computer graphics standardisation that many of us first met Jürgen. He was a key member of the DIN delegation to the ISO working group on computer graphics and went on to become chairman of the graphics group ISO JTC1/SC24 from 1983 to 1990. He then went on to lead standardization activities in the pre-press area. From his time as chairman of Eurographics I have three abiding memories. First, Jürgen once told me that his early career was divided into 5-year sections. He would work at something for 5 years, then move on to something fresh, where his experience and intellect would lead to another key contribution before moving to the next thing. If my memory serves me well, in one of these 5-year periods he was an accomplished Jazz bass player.
The second memory is of an Executive Board meeting held in Darmstadt. Jürgen, his wife and family, kindly invited us to visit their home on the outskirts of Darmstadt. We were entertained to a superb evening of refreshment in the form of a soup party. The range of soups offered was amazing and all were truly delicious.
The third memory is from the Eurographics 92 conference in Cambridge. Jürgen chaired his final General Assembly and we gave him a present at the close—a copy of Gene Lees’ book ‘Meet Me at Jim and Andy’s: Jazz Musicians and Their World’. Jürgen returned to his room in college at the close of the meeting and started to read the book. He became so engrossed that he almost missed the coach to the social event! It was a privilege to know Jürgen. He contributed so much to the world of computer graphics standards through his social and political skills as well as his technical excellence; skills he also brought to his chairmanship of the Association at a key time in our history. To his family, friends and colleagues, we extend our condolences on their loss and hope that our memories of him will trigger fresh and happy memories of their own at this sad time.