It has been almost two weeks since Jon Postel left us, and I'm still getting it into perspective. If you're reading this, you're being touched by his legacy. The Internet would be profoundly different without Jon, if it existed at all. He is directly responsible for a stunning array of RFCs, the documents that define the way computers (and people) talk to each other on the Internet. He was invisibly influential in many other ways. Anyone interested in the Internet should investigate his work to understand the loss to the Internet community.
I was fortunate enough to know Jon, and I feel his loss acutely. I didn't collaborate with him daily, but Jon was a pervasive presence at ISI. He was good natured, humble, and brilliant. I can't think of anyone who better personified the type of researcher that I would like to be. His widespread respect was well-deserved, and he was personally one of the best people I've gotten to meet.
The way I remember Jon is laughing. He certainly wasn't always laughing. He was serious when it was merited, but in my fondest memories of him, he's laughing.
Occasionally I'd catch his eye in a presentation, and we'd share a quiet joke. Sometimes I'd run into him in the hall and he'd share a quip about the latest honor or ignominity that the press had bestowed on him. He seemed to downplay either with a smirk. Even technical discussions were graced with chuckles.
Today on my way to some meeting or other, I could have sworn I heard him laughing in one of the conference rooms. I wish he could tell me what's so funny.