Today is a very sad day for lots of people, including me. Morris Halle passed away early this morning. Here is the MIT announcement. Morris was my thesis advisor, and a wonderful mentor and friend to me in many, many ways.
Here's a brief reminiscence that often comes back to me. When I came to MIT in 1988 Morris had a house in Cambridge not far from Porter Square. My wife, Jane and I lived in a house in Somerville, about midway between Porter and Davis. This meant that there were lots of times when Morris and I were heading home at the same time, so we would ride the T together, and mostly he would tell me stories. I'm sure that many of the stories were really parables, and sometimes I think I got the lesson, but often I think I didn't, meaning that I didn't even realize there was a lesson. But like all good parables, the stories were captivating in and of themselves.
Sometimes, though, we would be going home separately, but at about the same time, so we might end up on the same train but in separate cars. There is one particular time I recall quite vividly even today. When the train stopped at Porter and I got out, I could see that Morris had been on that train too, a couple of cars ahead of me. (He would stand in the exact spot on the Kendall platform so that he would be delivered right at the foot of the stairs when the train arrived at Porter.) The Porter T station has the longest escalator in the MBTA system (143 feet Wikipedia says). Anyway, as I was walking out several yards or so behind him, I could see Morris get on the escalator and take the stairs two at a time all the way up to the top. He was 68 years old then. For me it was yet another display of how Morris tackled problems -- head on and all in. I found that truly inspiring then, and all the more so now.