The smartest man I’ve ever worked with, my best friend, died unexpectedly this week. I’m en route to Tel Aviv for his funeral. He’d been having significant swings in his health, and this time, just as it seemed there was a breakthrough, time ran out.
His name was Dorron Levy, and my daughter describes him to friends as the Israeli version of me. He taught me how to think about complex problems. He taught me to be very picky about coffee. His family and I fell in love. And he taught me how to construct a speech in a way that it opens a big question in an audience’s mind and then fills it, leaving them with a new view of how the world works.
He loved books, he loved solving impossible problems, he loved learning, and he loved teaching. (He once said the biggest compliment was to hear “You really taught me something.”) He loved digging down into the deep underlying causes. And when that led to solving an impossible problem, the glee on his face was a wonder to see. And as a dual citizen – born in Denver to Israeli parents – he was extremely astute about differences in culture.
I worked with Dorron at Indigo America in the 1990s, when the digital printing industry was very new. (Today, Indigo presses do the print-on-demand for Let Patients Help.) The family moved back to Israel years ago – but in 2007 when they learned of my cancer, the entire family came to visit me, on short notice (see photo). That’s expensive. That’s dedication.
Years later I said “You must have felt you were coming to say goodbye.” He said “Nothing could be further from the truth. We came to give you hope.” That’s amazing to hear from a strict, rational scientist. I wrote about it in my first little self-published book Facing Death – With Hope, and mentioned his words again just last month in my post from the World Parkinson Congress.
Well, they did give me hope, and I survived. And now it’s my turn, but this time I am going to say goodbye … and to reaffirm my connection with his family. I’d visited them a year ago, and boy am I glad I did.
Now it’s my turn to say “Hug someone you care about, today, or even right now. You never know how much time we have together.”
Shalom, Dorron. You made a lasting mark in my heart and mind. And you taught me.
Update 12/5/2021: On this anniversary of his death, I’ll paste in this Facebook photo from his funeral. As I said in that post, this didn’t include the many people off the picture to the left, who had already turned the corner. Imagine touching so many lives so deeply.