The technical writing community has recently lost one of its best. My colleague and very good friend and long-time Techwr-L contributor, Martha Kolman-Davidson, lost her battle against cancer on Tuesday June 12, 2007.
I first worked with Martha at Synon in 1999. While her strong personality initially put me off a little bit, once I got to know her, she quickly became one of my best friends. She always had good advice, and was always willing to freely give it when asked. She would chide me anytime I took responsibilities that would take me away from writing. The thought that I would want to do anything but write perplexed her.
Through her, I met her husband, Ghostwolf Davidson, who is also a technical writer (and has been an on-again, off-again subscriber to this list). I would go to dinner with Martha and Wolf whenever I was in the north San Francisco Bay Area, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching their banter. It was similar to listening to "Says You" on NPR.
Talking with Martha would sharpen my own communication, as I thought a little more about what I was going to say, making sure it was as accurate as I could make it. She would pounce on any ambiguity in what I said, like a kitten with a catnip mouse. While it was a little mental taxing, it was in a good way... like when you feel good about sore muscles after a good workout
Martha was an avid contributor to the documentation and web site for New Equations (http://www.newequations.com). For the life of me, I never could adequately express what New Equations was, though Martha could! (In case you're interested, she was a type 5, and I am a type 9.)
Martha had an astounding knack for remembering details about things that no mere mortal would be able to remember. On our last day at Synon, she recalled to me the outfit I had worn to my interview, two and a half years earlier. She would remember birthdays and anniversaries and other things about others that sometimes we can't remember about ourselves. :-)
I've never had a coworker who I was closer with than Martha, and I miss her terribly. My IM client is a sad, with her name not in bold anymore. My email inbox is despondent, without her cheerful emails. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows won't be as much fun to read without her to talk with when I'm in the middle of it, and when I've finished it.
Martha, you touched the lives of many, and our lives are fuller and richer for it. We miss you already.
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Article Copyright © 2007, David Castro and used with permission of Jerry Rudisen. All rights reserved.