This site is for family, friends, and colleagues of Avner Magen to post their thoughts and memories of him. Avner died in a climbing accident on May 29, 2010, in Alaska.

Avner was a beloved and devoted father, husband and son; a terrifically warm, funny, and energetic person; a brilliant and creative researcher; and a wonderful friend and colleague.

Please share your stories, memories and words of support by sending an email to You may also post comments to any entry. Visit this Photo Site for a photo memorial of Avner and his family and friends. Instructions for adding pictures appear next to the album.

More details appear on the Avner Magen Memorial page.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bernard Chazelle

I am still too stunned to write anything coherent. So please
forgive me if I ramble a bit. Avner and I were old
friends. We worked together on a few papers. He was
incredibly brilliant and I learned tons of stuff from
him. And he was the most generous soul as well.
Collaborating with Avner was truly special: almost
indescribably so, in fact. For one thing, it was a giant
laughing session, interrupted only by the occasional
lemma. So much so that I still remember going home one day
with stomach cramps: the kind of cramps you get when you
laugh too hard for too long. Avner's humor didn't come from
an endless supply of "jokes." It came from himself,
effortlessly. That's who he was. In any situation he could
see a little twist, a little quirk, a little oddness. Some
call it wit. But it goes beyond it. For Avner it was a
philosophy of life: perhaps a way of saying that in order to
take a few things very seriously one should learn to take
many things not too seriously. Among the things he took with
infinite seriousness were his family, his research, and his

His passion for climbing was easy to envy. Though I never
took him up on his repeated offers to join him on a hike (I
used to joke with him that I don't do the outdoors unless
it's flat, bug-free, and it comes with a 5-star hotel), I
deeply admired his passion. It seemed to add extra purpose
to his life. When he talked about his expeditions, his eyes
would sparkle with excitement. I don't think I could ever
understand what it was all about but it left a deep
impression on me. The intensity, the beauty, and the
nobility of his passion were an integral part of who he
was. If I can ever make sense of this terrible accident (not
that I will), it is in this context of intensity, beauty,
and nobility that I will always think of it.

I know it's a trite thing to say but I feel privileged to
have been Avner's friend. At the same time, I expect to
receive an email from him any time now asking me why in the
world I've been writing all this "nonsense" about him as
though he was gone. It's a cliche to say that it must all
be a bad dream. But that's how it really feels, and it

My deepest condolences to his family.

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