Harmen Beukers (1945–2020), in memoriam

Harm Beukers

by Harold J. Cook

I came to know Harmen Beukers as an energetic, courteous, sociable, and inquisitive scholar, someone holding to the ambition of bridging the alpha and beta worlds of the modern academy. Both sides have their blind spots, but he was eager to mark guideposts raised in the past so that we could recognize them when finding our own direction. He mentored me and many other students, scholars, and friends with a direct, no-nonsense care and friendship. He was a natural supporter of the institutions that make our lives possible, mobilizing his local network to set up a faculty club or in later years happily putting on an academic gown to fill out many academic boards for the dignity of a Ph.D. defense at his beloved Leiden University. Events he helped to organize might be for the public – like the annual open-house for the anatomical specimens in the university’s medical collections – but he hoped they would help to inspire knowledge more than elicit bewildering wonder. His kind of Dutch gentleman, I discovered, was both private and cosmopolitan, critical and exacting, seeking to investigate the facts with care and diligence; but Harm also had an open sense of humor and a love of being on the move, often venturing onto new ground by taking on fresh challenges, not least learning Japanese when no longer in his youth. He was a colleague and a teacher, and to at least some of us, a friend. 

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