Remembering Robert Davis, aka @SQLSoldier

I woke up early on Tuesday with a hundred things to do and plenty of energy to match my task list. By noon, I’d made a loaf of bread, helped a friend solve a tech mystery, and had various professional adventures.

Then I opened Twitter and saw the news that Robert Davis passed away.

I haven’t really gotten much done in the hours since, except think about Robert. And cry a bit. And laugh. It feels weird laughing, but I think Robert would understand.

Robert was one of the smartest people I’ll ever meet

Robert’s mind, and his memory, were amazing. He learned quickly and he had amazing recall of facts, he was so accurate and fast!

Robert was someone who really knew it all, when it came to SQL Server – but he was the opposite of a know-it-all. He loved learning things, and he was always excited to find out how things worked and to share it. He didn’t hoard knowledge, he amplified it. Working with him always felt like collaboration, not competition.

Robert was that rare funny person who made jokes without malice. He had a super quick wit, and he could make a sharp joke about politics, but he was a very kind and ethical person.

Robert loved helping people more than he loved being right

I hadn’t thought about how special that is as a quality before today.

Robert helped everyone on the internet. His help didn’t show any bias: if someone had a question and he could help, he’d try his best. If someone had information he didn’t, he welcomed it. If he learned something, he embraced it.

Before I ever met Robert in person or saw him on Twitter, I knew him as that person at Microsoft who helped everyone on the internal distribution list. And this wasn’t just based on the power of his memory: Robert took the time to explain things. He took the time to help, even when there was nothing in it for him.

Robert loved stories and dogs

Robert was great at describing things. I loved this description of his dog, Woody:

I don’t know what happens to us after we pass, and I know that Robert was an atheist, but I still find myself hoping that Robert and Woody are together again in some way.

And I think if Robert knew that my own dog managed to poop on the floor right behind me while I was attempting to write this post, right when I couldn’t figure out how to turn off caps lock SO THAT EVERYTHING LOOKED LIKE YELLING — I think he’d get a laugh out of that, too.

I’ll miss you, Robert. I wish I’d told you how much I respected and admired you before you passed.

Keep Robert’s New Year’s resolutions for him

Three months ago, Robert wrote that he had three goals:

Spend less time working.

Spend more time with my wife and our dog.

Get out and do more things.

Robert can’t keep working on those goals, but we can work on them in his honor.

We can also help Robert’s family

Robert and his family were in the process of a cross-country move when he passed away. Please consider helping his family if you are able.

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