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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16 Comments. Leave new

  • I did not cry since I heard the news but you made me cry. Thank you.

    Reply
  • I always enjoyed seeing Robert at Sql server events. Sad news indeed, thanks for sharing Kendra.

    Reply
  • Meher Malakapalli
    April 3, 2018 6:46 pm

    Thanks for writing this Kendra. Its an excellent tribute to Robert’s legacy.

    Reply
  • Anders Pedersen
    April 3, 2018 7:24 pm

    “Robert loved helping people more than he loved being right”
    So true. I found a bug in code he had posted on his blog, contacted him with my solution and offered for him to update his post. Instead he was more than happy to let me take over the code 😉

    Reply
  • That’s a lovely tribute. I only ever communicated with him via #sqlhelp but his impact on the community is easily found no matter where you look.

    I remember him writing about his goals at the time, thanks for the reminder. Reminds you of the important stuff.

    Keith

    Reply
  • Karen Griffin
    April 4, 2018 3:53 am

    Such a great loss, thanks for sharing

    Reply
  • Ditto to Taiob. Tears still going down, beautiful post.

    Reply
  • Cindy Roush
    April 4, 2018 7:40 am

    Well said, Kendra. What a good guy he was.

    Reply
  • […] We lost Robert L Davis this week, unexpectedly.  I’m far too short on words today, so I’m going to borrow from Kendra Little: […]

    Reply
  • What a beautiful passage, Kenda, to a wonderful person. I loved working with Robert at Microsoft, and I have loved reading his blogs and following his work since then. And I’m sad to lose him.

    Reply
  • Fantastic tribute!

    Reply
  • Dean Moncaster
    April 5, 2018 5:01 am

    I spoke to him on spiceworks a few times and he was the single most knowledgeable guy i have ever met when it comes to SQL. He was a proper genius!

    Reply
  • Alex Friedman
    April 8, 2018 7:09 am

    Oh my god, I had no idea. Rest in piece, Robert…

    Reply
  • I never met the guy but he helped me out indirectly many times. RIP, God bless and thank you.

    Reply
  • […] there’s one thing I’ve learned from the many tributes to our late #SQLFamily member SQLSoldier, it’s the importance of being generous […]

    Reply
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