Thoughts on the passing of John Diebold
My initial reaction to the news of John’s passing is at:
I viewed John as an older brother type, having met him very early in
my careerand having crossed paths with him frequently. He was always fun to be
around and offered good council when asked.
In winter 2004 John and I did a memorable tour of the southern
Caribbean seeking environmental permissions from the three governments in the area (Aruba, Curacao, Venezuela) for one of the last seismic programs conducted by the Ewing. We were also making contacts with the local NGO’s concerned about protecting marine
mammals. The Caribbean is the place that humback whales go for romance, much like many of the American land mammals, so we had to fit our experiment into the amorous habits of the humpbacks. You can imagine the fun John had with that.
John was an absolute joy to travel with. He secured the enthusiastic
cooperation of both the governments and the NGOs. During our many little adventures, John’s rusty Spanish gradually came back as we toured the area. At a briefing to the Venezuelan Environmental Ministry he started speaking in English, with a Spanish interpreter, and gradually shifted entirely to Spanish. His interpreter and the audience questioning us accommodated him by shifting from Spanish entirely to English. It was more than a few moments before everyone realized what happened and burst into laughter. This was an amazingly effective ice breaker. Needless to say due to his diligence and charm,
our cruise had no environmental hiccups worth mentioning and we fielded a very productive experiment.
I miss John already.
First of a few, I hope
I met John when I came to Lamont in 1975, when both of us were
beginning graduate students, although he had worked on board the Vema
for years previously and clearly knew the ropes. He and I
immediately hit it off, and within months he became the mainstay
friend that would help me through the whole effort of school. Early
in an enormous number of memories was a winter party down in Piedmont,
for which he had concocted the punch and clearly tasted too often
during the preparation. By the time I got there, he was already many
sheets to the wind, sitting outside by the punchbowl. I went over and
tried to talk with him, but it was no use, his punch was absolutely
treacherous, and John was already gone, singing “There’s a beautiful,
beautiful field, far away in a land that is fair, happy landings to
you, Amelia Earhart, farewell, first lady of the air.” Which lyrics
John negotiated well, and have remained with me ever since. I sat
with him through much of the evening, and drank enough of the punch,
even with the clear evidence of its potency before me, that I was
blindingly drunk when it was time to get home. I have generally been
fortunate enough to realize my incapacity in that state, although that
realization has never improved my judgment. So I left John, who
fortunately didn’t have to go anywhere else, and drove home the two
miles to my house in Sparkill very carefully, utterly terrified of
being pulled over by the Piedmont police.
John Diebold Remembrances
I am just a first year graduate student, and did not even work in
John’s Oceanography building or field of study, but his gregarious
personality and rich life stories, along with a willingness to share
those stories, brought us together at one of the first TG events that
I attended last summer. John was a guy who I always looked for at TG,
because the conversation was never dull…. starting with his many
adventures at sea, or his circuitous path through higher education,
ending fittingly where it began, here on the Hudson in Rockland
County, NY…. I was delighted to get invited on the R/V Endeavor
cruise to Haiti this spring, partly because I was told that John would
be along and likely would bring his guitar. We’d talked of playing
together for months, and this would be a great occasion to make it
happen. Sometimes on the ship, we’d play a few minutes as he was
getting off the watch at 4am and I was taking over. When we pulled
into port on the way home, an impressive team of black SUV’s, harbor
patrol scuba divers, and uniformed Customs and Border Patrol agents
were awaiting us to search the ship for contraband or illegal aliens,
I guess. The entire crew of scientists was confined to the main lab
to ensure that we didn’t interfere with the investigation. So, for
one hour while the divers picked barnacles off the bottom of our boat
in search of the ‘secret trap-door with all the booty,’ John and I
played folk tunes and blues music in the lab. Somehow, the music
eased the tension in the air and reminded the agents and the
scientists that we were all just real people, doing our thing, and
this would be no time to get uptight or aggravated. Let’s all just
sing a song for now. That scene, for me, is essentially John D. His
presence and personality could disarm you and invite you to relax, and
enjoy life for a while, tell a few stories, laugh, dream, remember.
In some ways, I thought John Diebold was the ‘most interesting man in
the world,’ although I often saw him sipping something more
interesting than Dos Equis. I think that mustache went a long way
toward creating the ‘mystique of Diebold,’ in my mind. In the short
time that I have known him, he helped make Lamont a more welcoming
place for me, a place where work life and social life could mingle
freely and happily, and his broad interests and experience were
inspiring to a young scientist who some day would like to be as well-
rounded, friendly, interesting and wise as John Diebold. Thanks,
John, for a year of friendship. I will miss you and remember you for
many years to come.
– John Templeton
I blogged about John on the Earth & Mind Blog (http://serc.carleton.edu/earthandmind/posts/diebold.html) admiring his great talent for making stuff, fixing stuff, and getting stuff done, and wondering whether modern science education is providing on-ramps into science for people with such talents.
A Touch of Caring
I never knew John Diebold very well, having had only two interactions
with him, but both of them stand out in my mind. The first was when I
was fairly new at Lamont. I didn’t know very many people, and given
that the nature of my work is sensitive/ delicate at best and outright
controversial at worst, I got into the habit of keeping mostly to
myself, outside of professional interactions. I found myself next to
John in a meeting once. I didn’t try to make any small talk, focusing
only on the meeting agenda. But he looked at me with a certain gentle
warmth and asked me, “Kuheli, are you happy here?” I was stunned, but
managed to respond politely that I was. Such a sweet and caring thing
to ask someone you barely know – it touched me profoundly and I
replayed that moment in my mind many times over. No one else at Lamont
had ever used that particular choice of words when asking me how I was
The second instance was very recent – less than 2 months ago – at
Monell auditorium during the Friday colloquium. He happened to be
sitting next to me. He asked me, “Is everything okay?” I responded it
was. He asked, “You’re fine?” I said I was. He asked, “Are you still
liking your job?” I laughed and responded, “I suppose you could say
that!” He said, “That’s wonderful.” All through that colloquium, each
time he happened to glance in my direction he gave me a warm,
encouraging smile, as if to reassure me that everything was going to
be okay. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was that caused him
to behave that way with me but I appreciated it more than I could
express in words. Again, I replayed those moments in mind long after
they were over, deeply touched by his caring attitude towards someone
he barely knew.
How I wish I had taken a moment to tell him how much his words meant
to me. That I would probably never forget them. That his caring words
meant more to me than I allowed myself to reveal. The only
consolation I’ve been giving myself since I heard of his passing is
that as long as I remember his caring words, he will always remain
alive somewhere within my mind…
John Diebold of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia university passed away the night before last. He was a pioneer of marine seismic reflection data acquisition, working with compressed air sounds sources back in the 1960s. He was also an interesting and nice person, and he was part of our group working on the North Anatolian fault offshore Istanbul. See his web site (linked). He also volunteered for our Rapid Response cruise after the Haiti earthquake. Milene Cormier read his papers (with Peter Buhl) when she worked for Royal Dutch Shell research in the mid 1980s. Of course, he has been in numerous projects that I had no involvement in; just his name on a proposal lent it some additional credibility. He said he spent over 5 years total at sea. I think that includes the old Lamont sailing ship Vema. He was on the Conrad when it rolled about 55 degrees.
I suppose a nice way to remember John is for the BBQ (cookout) in his back yard in Nyack New York at the end of May last year. Lamont was hosting 3 Turkish grad students and postdoc for a couple of months, I had hosted a 4th one who was then at Lamont, and about 4 professors came from Turkey for a few days of working sessions.
John gave a Turkish Ph.D student one of his guitars (as a gift, not just for the evening), and they played music together and separately. It was really a wonderful, memorable evening. John was part of the reason that there seems to be a lot of good will in our ongoing international collaboration with 2 Turkish universities.
Chris Sorlien AKA Heartland Chris
My fondest memory of John was actually with my children. In June 2005 my husband and I purchased our first home. This was when I was still working at Lamont. To celebrate we had a BBQ and I invited all of my Lamont friends. John was among them and of course, John being John, he brought his guitar and serenaded everyone through a good part of the day into evening. My boys were 4 and 6 at the time and they were just fascinated by John and his guitar. He called them over and showed them how to strum the strings. They were so excited that they got to “play” John’s guitar. That was a very touching and special moment for me.
I’m no longer at Lamont but was fortunate enough to have spent some time with John at the Lamont reception at this past December’s AGU conference. It was wonderful to see him again and I will cherish that moment now that he’s gone.
A good shipmate
John Diebold and I had a long relationship at Lamont–he was actually my
direct supervisor during the last years of my career–but I knew him best as a shipmate
during the many times we sailed together on the RVs Conrad and Ewing.
“Doctor John” was always a pleasure to have on a ship. In addition to his cordial
and out-going manner, his breadth of knowledge, ranging from the details of airgun
operation to the fine points of seismic processing, made him a real asset to any cruise.
And he was never reluctant to pitch in, Whether it was hauling in an airgun or dragging
a heavy streamer section across the deck, John would make a point to be on hand for
I miss John. Since my retirement, our only interaction had been to exchange brief greetings
during infrequent meetings on the street or at Lamont, but I always was happy in the knowledge
that someone like him was around.
Joe Stennett, Science Officer for RVs Conrad and Ewing.
I was really saddened to hear the news about John D! I can only think of John as a young man with just about the best moustache in the business. How can he have died so soon and suddenly? They say he was at Lamont for 43 years so he must obviously be well into his sixties – that’s not possible. Even when we’ve met on occasion over the ensuing years since I left Lamont I never looked upon him as aging. Reading his History of Lamont brought back so many memories although I don’t think I actually sailed with John: I was on Conrad 9 and 11 and Vema 28 and 32 and I don’t think he sailed on Eltanin where I spent (and mis-spent) part of my youth. I’ll always remember the great times we had at TGIF and especially at the bar at O’Ds discussing everything discussable.
Port Aransas, TX 78373-5015
*I heard from my father, Paul Stoffa, on the 4th of July, about the passing of John D.
*I am hoping that you can pass my condolences on to his family and to his colleagues at Lamont.
*Also, I am sure that you are getting to hear lots of great John D stories and I wanted to share a few of the ways that John D touched my life.
*I knew John D from roughly 1976 to 1984. These were formative years, for me (ages 6 to 14). As I grew from a little boy to a teenager, John D gave me piggy back rides; helped me learn to skip rocks; covered for me after encouraging the odd weekend raid on Peter Buhl’s office for Pepperidge Farm cookies; and showed me fractals being drawn on an SGI machine.
*John D continued to influence my life after I moved with my family to Texas. At 17, when I got my ear pierced, I knew that I wouldn’t be in too much trouble with my Dad. After all, John D had an earring too. Later on, the motorcycle was a harder sell, but I was out of the house by then. Nowadays, I am sporting a handlebar mustache, not nearly as impressive, but definitely inspired by John D’s cookie duster.
*And, John D was my juggling mentorŠ
—His homemade bean bag juggling balls were always available for me to use whenever I visited “the office”. He also gave me other key tips for beginners, like you can practice with sock balls, over your bed, and/or in front of a wall, so you don’t have to waste as much time chasing them around the room and bending down to pick them up.
—John D would juggle and tell me stories at the same time. My favorite was a story about the US and the Soviet Union (remember this was the 1980′s) starting a nuclear war. One ball would go over the top (the initial strike) another ball would come back over the top from the opposite side. Before long, bean bags would be launched from both sides simultaneously in a demonstration of John D juggling prowess.
—To this day, I carry three hackie sacks in my messenger bag with me. Wherever I am in the world, I can always break the ice with a stranger, especially kids, by juggling. I am living in Korea now, so the story John D. taught me still works with the local kids.
*Now, if I could only learn to play guitar and banjoŠ
*John D. was one of a kind and my life was made so much the better by having known him.
*With deepest sympathy,
On Sunday, 4 July, Paul Stoffa told me the very sad news about John Diebold and forwarded your excellent piece about him. You got it just right.
Paul and I had been working together for a week. On the drive back to the airport on Sunday, 27 June, we talked about John Diebold. A strange coincidence: I think that was the day he died.
I had known John since the early 1970′s and he was always the same jolly, friendly person I first met. We resumed conversations as if no time had passed. I am sure he was the same with everyone. I was always happy to see him and very much enjoyed his company. He came to dinner at our house in Edinburgh one time in the 1990s. I felt we had a lot in common, including air guns. We spent three weeks together on the Marion Dufresne in 1990; the cruise is on his web page.
I’ve been thinking about him a lot since I heard this sad news. If Lamont is having a memorial service, please would you let me know?
We were. John was just finishing up his PhD when I arrived on the scene at Lamont. Since then, there was the big Geo-Fizzicle Pogo poster he made for my office, which hung on the wall there for at least a couple decades; my first motorcycle ride, hanging onto
John’s black leather jacket in front of me and feeling both anxious and very safe at the same time; learning how to juggle those homemade beanbags (“learning” overstates the lame results — but I sure tried!); years & years of blue-ribbon chili, and then the
generosity to share the recipe with us all; John sad and reflective at Naomi Katz’s memorial service (now we’ve lost another friend from the MCS group); John happy with Glenna; and of course the amazing music. But mostly, there was the warmth, kindness &
the always wonderful company. Mia
goin’ to chicago
In the winter of 1961 or 1962 John and I drove from Cornell to Chicago to catch the Chicago Folk Festival. Along the way we picked up my then-girlfriend and first-wife-to-be Joan Golomb in some god-awful bus station in Toledo. We had a wonderful time in Chicago, and heard some great music (including recent “discoveries” like The Staple Singers, Doc Watson, and Gaither Carleton). And we visited a fabulous record store, the Jazz Record Mart, owned by a cat named Bob Koester. The store is still there in Chicago (though at a different location), and I still drop in to buy jazz LPs from time to time. The details of that early trip all started coming back when John dropped me an email note in June, 2009. For ease of reading I’ll put John’s messages in Roman and mine in italic. Michael
There’s a full-page story on Bob Koester in tomorrow’s NYT Arts & Leisure section. Lotsa pictures. Called “Happily seduced by the Blues” by a guy I don’t know named Larry Rohter. Sweet. JD
“Bob told us, ‘Play me a record just like you played last night in the club’ and that’s exactly what we did,” Buddy Guy, the guitarist on the record, said recently. “Over at Chess, Chicago’s main blues label in those days, you’d come in, and the producers would try to teach you how to play, or would tell you to turn your amp down. But Bob didn’t want that. He wanted to hear us being ourselves.” Ah, the quote worth the price of admission!
I still remember wandering into the Jazz Record Mart in 1960, or ’61, when we went to the Chicago Folk Festival, and buying a few Wolf 78s. I’ve been back many times since (it’s moved three times, but always near the loop), and every time I walk in a warm sense of pleasure washes over me. Koester was a bit anti-semitic, which always bothered me, but not enough to keep out of his store. Mike
Right on. I think it was the winter of ’61-62, when we drove west in Ed Fine’s father’s car, picked Joan up on the way. I can’t remember or not whether I went with you to the record store. I remember it was cold as hell (or someplace to the north of there) – well, maybe Norse hell, which is frozen. And the wind – the hawk – driving thru the crosstown streets on the south side, where we were crashing. And the snowy, rutted, but unplowed streets. Wish I’d had a camera then, not that I could have afforded the film.
Another milestone in my life was that I finally got addicted to nicotine (i.e., could smoke an entire Camel cigarette without throwing up) on the drive back to Ithaca – I did the night shift, as I recall – and it took me 10 years to come to my senses and quit. But hey, I was 17. JD
Your memory is much better than mine. ’61-’62 is probably exactly right. Ed Fine’s father’s car indeed! Yes, I remember picking up Joan at the Toledo bus station, and I remember going to the Museum of Science and Industry, and I remember the sawdust on the floor of the Jazz Record Mart, and most particularly I remember the flash ice that was as slippery as glass, impossible to walk on, and made it almost impossible to get up once you fell down. Most of all I remember seeing the Staple Singers, virtually unknown outside of Chicago at that time, rocking the place out so definitively that for days afterwards we were hand-clapping in the same groove. I didn’t remember the Camels, but I suspect they were mine. Sorry about that, man. Mike
The Staple singers – yes!! That was a transcendent moment – the rock, the swing, the – everything. I had never experienced anything like that, and I’d heard a few before, young as I was, but nothing like that!
Don’t be sorry about the Camels. I’d worked hard at it and was oddly happy when I realized I’d broken through to being able to smoke. What an idiot! But you know that story, and we’re both over it for a long time now.
Love you, man…
Love you too, man! Yes, we’ve heard the chimes at midnight…
[missing msg from Martha Ture]
Ooh! In the “multimedia” attachments to that story is a really good take by Sleepy John of “Everybody’s Got to Change Sometime.” Check it out!
Thanks, Martha, but they need the pictures, too – particularly the one of Big Joe Williams’ 9-string guitar. Damn, one of the best nights of my early life included sitting next to him in Chicago, January 1962, him playing that axe, and instructing me on the joys of wine spo-dee-odee (though that’s not what he called it; he just said something like, “The wine is fine when you put a little vodka in it.”) Damn, again! Just went online, and the online version does not include that photo. John
Yeah! I remember the afternoon, but not the quote. And man, that wine spo-dee-odee was nasty! Mike
Understandable, Mike. It was just an aside, spoken to me – and I don’t think it actually involved creation of the sacred drink – we probably didn’t have all of the makings – or maybe we did, and that’s why I don’t remember it so well. But looking back with my wisdom of age, I think maybe Joe was hinting a little, hoping that I was holding out a hip-flask or something. But I sure remember that nine-string guitar, and there’s a kind of a story on that, too. My good friend, Ken McNichol, who was fairly handy, make himself a copy of it – installed three extra string-winding machines across the top of the peghead of an old guitar. I suppose this also entails filing some new grooves into the upper saddle and poking some new holes in the bridge for the string ends, but I don’t remember that part. Anyhow, I guess it was a momentary tribute and experiment on Ken’s part, but why I remember is that he lent me that axe for a cruise on the Conrad back in 1985 or sometime. Somewhere, I have a photo of me playing the thing, in the waist deck, on my birthday. When I find it, I’ll look and see if any of those details are evident. JD
I have a fairly clear memory of Big Joe mixing up the sacred drink on top of a radiator in his hotel room, so somebody must have had the makings. And I remember trying a sip and finding it almost undrinkable. Do not pass that bottle to me. Mike
Remembering a long-time friend
Title: Remembering a long-time friend
John was a part of my life for more than thirty years. We last spent serious time together in May this year for a full day, when he and Greg Mountain and I went to a memorial for a former colleague, Lee Alsop, in NW Connecticut. We arrived in a country graveyard, and there and then later at the family house, John gently conveyed to the Alsop family how much he sympathized with them and with their loss. And now he is our own loss.
John was so much better than most of us, at many of the ways we humans try to learn and to communicate. He was a bit less that a year younger than me, yet found ways to manage the grad school courses in geophysical theory and advanced seismology I taught with him as a student without the need to bring out—to me and the other students in those courses—the obvious fact that he knew far more about practical geophysics than I did.
For nearly 20 years, my wife Jody and I lived about 200 yards from the North Broadway (Upper Nyack) location where John had earlier lived as a child, and where his father William and step-mother Ruth continued to be occasional figures passing in the street. John visited Jody and me many times in those years. He had the patience to live with my renditions of Scott Joplin’s piano rags, and with halting versions of Bach organ music, and he gave me a compendium of Jelly Roll Morton’s piano compositions that were way above what I could achieve. Hearing him and (young) Paul Peabody playing blue grass music at the Turning Point, was just pure pleasure.
In the early 1980s he came to me with a piece of paper from Columbia lawyers purporting to lay out his future with the University. I told him that regardless of this paper he had a good future with the university and with the Observatory, and that we were lucky to have him. Which, indeed, we were.
John’s Ph. D. thesis concerned a quantity called “tau” that has the dual properties of being something that can be computed from the types of marine seismic data that he dedicated a career to acquiring, and being also a key quantity that enables computation of what seismic data should look like if you have a relevant model of Earth structure. At some point during his thesis work, something clicked when we realized that tau’s dual properties had been developed for simple types of explanations of the data (in which we think of structure varying only in depth), and had been extended theoretically to somewhat more complicated explanations (in which we think of structure varying in range as well as in depth). But if tau worked for these so-called one dimensional models, and for two-dimensional models (the variation in both range and depth), wouldn’t it work too for three dimensional models, in which we think of mother Earth being made up from layers with flat interfaces tilted in any old orientation? The answer was YES, and John and I took some pleasure in writing papers about that, meeting the challenge of figures that show rays bouncing around in ways that can’t be properly drawn on a page because of their propensity to go out of the vertical plane.
I am so fortunate to have seen different facets of this man. Indeed, we were lucky to have him.
Diebold In New Orleans
This piece comes from the first draft of my recent book, Heaven Before I Die – A Journey to the Heart of New Orleans. Unfortunately, I needed to tighten it up quite a bit for the final version of the book, and a lot of details disappeared. I much prefer this version. John D gets no direct dialogue–but for me, he’s the star of this story, since we see all these amazing things as reflected in his enjoyment. Think of it as a silent movie.
John was my best man when I got married in New Orleans in 1999, and when my brother Jeremiah passed away several years earlier, and we had a jazz funeral for him in Oakland, and the band was playing the traditional New Orleans funeral-parade-favorite, “Didn’t He Ramble,” John and I sort of automatically grabbed the microphone to sing the back-up chorus together. I say this just to say that he had some New Orleans street cred. And here’s one example of why. Mike G
CINDERELLA’S EVIL FAIRY GODMOTHER
NEW ORLEANS, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2000
Maisha Joseph, Melba Ferdinand’s lovely 29-year-old daughter, had been urging John Diebold and me to join her at the Decadence Bash – a technically “secret” outdoor party at midnight tonight. Pianist Tom McDermott had pulled our coats about the Bash too, since his band, the Nightcrawlers, were scheduled to play. Maisha reminded us that the Decadence Bash required a costume, and that the official dress-code was “lewd or nude.” Hmmm…
Unfortunately neither John D nor I had time or money to spend on lewd costumery. After some thought we decided that the easiest, cheapest, and fastest solution would be to buy some cheap sheets and turn them into togas! A classic costume. So we dragged our asses out of bed as early as we could and drove out to Wal-Mart in Metairie, where we acquired two white sheets and a big envelope of safety pins.
Back at my place on Mandeville Street in the Faubourg Marigny we tried to turn the sheets into togas with minimal success. Jeez, it looked so easy when John Belushi did it in Animal House… After several tries that left the sheets dragging on the ground (bad for dancing), or revealing our genitals (bad for self-esteem), or bunched up around our shoulders (bad for convincing anyone that we were wearing togas) we gave up, went on-line, and quickly found actual step-by-step instructions for draping a toga.
The bad news was that the instructions called for the sheet to be three times as long as the person wearing it was tall; our sheets were way too short. No wonder they looked silly. Still, working from the print-out we finally managed to get our sheets into passably-togalike configurations. A few strategically-placed safety pins would do the rest.
No time to do more, because now we needed to be in the Treme for the start of a big second-line parade! Yes, the bigger, better, two-day Treme Fest was starting out with a major second-line. It had been months since I’d gone out on a parade, and especially with John (who gets far fewer windows of second-line opportunity than I do) being in town we figured it was a must. John loves this street parade stuff even more than I do.
The sky was overcast when we arrived in the Treme. We grabbed a perfect parking spot, got out, and found ourselves in the middle of huge bunches of high school marching bands, Grand Marshall (and trumpeter) Kermit Ruffins in a limo with several cute babes, and the Black Men of Labor setting up to march with my pal Benny Jones and his Treme Brass Band. Benny is one of the two or three baddest second-line snare drummers in town (and a founding member of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band), and my long-time policy is that if he’s playing a second-line parade, I get as close to him as I can and stay there as long as possible, riding home on his exquisite polyrhythms.
We waited on Villere St., digging the action and the rising excitement all around us. Damn, there is nothing better than a second-line parade in New Orleans. And no better way to enjoy it than with your best friend at your side.
We pulled out around 12:20. We let the loud (and square) marching bands get far enough ahead of us to soften their roaring drum sections and leave some space for the Treme’s hipper swing beat. Then we rolled uptown to Orleans and turned up toward Broad. Behind us, another brass band, the Soul Rebels, gave us dancing room before firing up their own second-line brass machine in our footsteps.
We danced under the I-10 overpass (nice echo!), past the Orleans projects, past Dooky Chase’s famous restaurant, all the way up to Broad. Then we turned and headed downtown toward Esplanade. John and I were totally loving it, digging amusing store-signs and cute kids, jiving with the other second-liners and passers-by, drinking beer, enjoying the musical walking-tour of the city. The skies continued to darken, though, and by the time we turned down Esplanade toward the river the weather was looking a bit threatening. It didn’t seem to bother anyone, nor to dampen their spirits, and when performance artist Kathy Randels, music historian Jerry Brock, and a couple of other pals erupted from the crowd to throw their arms around us and join the parade we were totally glad to see them.
Just as we crossed back under the I-10 overpass, the clouds let loose with a cold, steady drizzle that encouraged all three brass bands to slow down under the overpass as long as possible. The resulting cacophony was intensely funny. Since all the bands knew most of the same songs it would have been easy to join in on a unison selection… perhaps too easy.
The drizzle turned to a sprinkle and then died out entirely as we danced a bit more wearily along the outer edge of the Treme. The main body of the parade continued on down to Rampart St. (or, as Danny Barker calls it, The Ramp) before turning up; Benny and the Treme took a short cut onto Treme Street itself, and suddenly, as we neared the grassy lot behind the church where the Treme Festival was to take place, we saw Rebirth marching up Barracks while we were marching down, and the Soul Rebels were marching along from the side. All playing different tunes with big crowds dancing along. Brass band clash!
The three bands and their streams of dancing followers met in the cross-roads, mixed, penetrated one another, and ended up in a loud shouting and playing contest which Rebirth won. Then we all crowded into the St. Augustine’s back lot, and while the bands continued to jam John and I bought huge smoked sausage po-boys for $3 each, and sat down to rest our feet and fill our empty bellies.
The crowd wasn’t huge, but it was bigger than I’d expected after the rain. James Rivers was just finishing, and he sounded so good we were sorry we hadn’t caught his entire set. Jerry Brock conducted us across the street to the Blandin Funeral Home, which had recently been turned into the Back Street Cultural Museum, devoted to collecting precious artifacts of the Black Indian Gangs, Social and Pleasure Clubs, and second-line parade functions. We couldn’t spend long, but the stuff inside was fantastic! It’s about time people started documenting and collecting this stuff. John was fascinated; sometimes I forget he doesn’t live here.
Back at the stage, Ernie K-Doe was starting his show. “I know you all remember this million-selling hit record by the great Ernie K-Doe,” he announced, starting into (of course) “Mother-In-Law.” A lot of what K-Doe does on stage these days is pretty lame, but he’s still a force of nature. Actually, I think he’s pretty great, but not for any of the reasons he thinks he’s great. When he finished “Mother-In-Law” he introduced the next tune by saying, “I know you all remember this million-selling hit record by the great Ernie K-Doe,” and I realized that was how he was going to introduce every number.
Much as I like Kermit, I am not a huge fan of his Big Band – which closed the show. Like most of their performances, this one was a bit disappointing. Most of the players were first-rate (like saxman Clarence Johnson) but it sounded like nobody had rehearsed so all the tunes tended to be jam-sessions with lots of solos and very little arrangement or excitement. On top of which, my back and legs were killing me, a result of having spent most of the previous nine hours standing, walking or dancing. I couldn’t imagine how we were gonna make it to, or through, the Decadence Bash.
Happily, after a few hours at home listening to Bob Dorough records and drinking whiskey we were both feeling a lot better and we were curious about the Decadence thing. So around 11:15 p.m. we started trying to rustle up our costumes. Neither of us were enthusiastic about the toga option any more, so John decided to simply wear his moderately lewd Funky-Butt t-shirt (“it’s tight, it’s cozy, it’s hidden away…”) and hope nobody stopped him at the door. I took off all my clothes except my shoes, found my illustrated lab coat, put it on, and left it open except for one strategic button. It was good: I was modestly covered unless I opened that button – but being naked under the lab coat I felt lewd. Best of all it was fast and easy, and I even had pockets for my car keys and a little cash.
We found the party site in the Bywater neighborhood, a mile or so down-river from my house (and not far from the New Orleans Cultural Center for the Arts (NOCCA) High School site) a large industrial clearing near the river, open to the night with a small stage and a tent for a bar. As we drove past looking for a parking spot we found ourselves surrounded by (a) no parking spots, and (b) scads of young women in low cut outfits, sexy lingerie, or (gasp) almost nothing at all. Walking back, we jived our way past the playful sexual come-ons and found our way inside. There was no admission hassle at all; the gate was wide open, and we walked right in.
There was quite a crowd inside. Many of the women were worth a second look, and most of them were loving being looked at. The ambience was playful and flirtatious. For the most part the girls’ costumes looked like retreads of Halloween masquerades, or buys from Victoria’s Secret, or (here and there) partial nudity. When a topless babe engaged me in conversation, and I complimented her on her looks, she replied, “And they’re edible, too.” I let that pass.
The guys’ costumes were less imaginative, although a few of the fellows had come up with cleverly suggestive outfits – and there was the usual sub-population of cross-dressed men in their girlfriends’ bras. It was a young crowd, mostly white, and in high spirits. Several costumed girls found excuses to pull up my lab coat, and I was rewarded with gleeful gasps and (once) a playful smack on the butt from a Bad Fairy’s bestarred wand. John wandered off by himself for long stretches of the evening, returning occasionally with two beers (one for me) and a pleasantly dazed expression on his face.
The Soul Rebels Brass Band were winding down their set, and after they cleared the stage the Crawlers were up next. Tom McDermott (wearing a funny hat which hid his face behind an image of Steve Martin; hardly a lewd outfit) found us in the crowd, and we made our way to the side of the stage. This seemed to be where the most extreme costumes and sexiest dancers had ended up: Several topless girls were prancing around, and one pretty young woman in a risque teddy was spending a lot of her time on her back on the dance floor, simulating sex with her male partner a-la Carnival in Trinidad but with fewer clothes. John was totally fascinated. Well, so was I. Presently Kathy Randels appeared in a tight red dress and dark, glossy lipstick. I asked her what she was, and she replied she was Cinderella’s Evil Fairy Godmother. We danced, flirted, and laughed through the Crawlers’ set.
And Maisha never showed up. Aww…
A few nights ago my wife Jennifer and I went to Chris Strachwitz’ annual
4th of July musicale at his great store, Down Home Music. There was live
cajun music and jazz and bluegrass bands playing, and I was close to tears
most of the night because John and I had gone to so many of those parties
together and I know how much he loved that shit, and would have enjoyed the
party last night. He and I loved going out to hear music together. Last
time he was here we went to see the Texas Shieks (Geoff Muldaur’s jug band)
at our local folk club the Freight and Salvage, and we had such a great
time together! We chatted up Maria Muldaur, who remembered John from the
wonderful days at Gerdes Folk City in the early Sixties, and I was
remembering how much John and I loved hanging out together back then, and
how our pleasure in each other and the music never died, but may even have
So…let me tell you a story about John and the Down Home Music
store. Back in the 1970s there was a cute Beetle Bailey Sunday comic
strip, five or six panels in which various people complain about the army
food, and then in the final panel the mess sergeant says, “Too much hot
pepper.” So I took the strip, whited-out all the dialogue balloons except
the last one, made ten photocopies, and sent them out to ten pals, inviting
them to provide their own dialogue in the blank balloons leading up to the
last comment about too much hot pepper. I offered some silly prize, a
cassette or something, I forget what, to the best entries. Of course
John’s was the best–he had the different characters uttering wordless but
clearly pained nonsense, which set up the punchline perfectly. There was a
touch of e.e. cummings about it. I sent him the prize, and scotch taped
the rewritten cartoon to a corridor wall at Down Home Music, where hot
pepper is always appreciated in its many metaphoric guises, and where John
was already well known both as my friend and as a super-cool and
knowledgeable folk music hepster. The comic remained on the wall,
accompanied by several other cute cartoons featuring mouse musicians and
such, for year after year. Eventually the other cartoons disappeared, but
amazingly enough, as the years accumulated into decades, John’s rewritten
hot pepper comedy remained. One decade passed, two, three. Every time I
passed I checked, and John’s cartoon was still there, fading but still
present. Over the years that area has turned into a sort of low-priority
storage area, and it’s been some time since I last looked for, or at, the
cartoon, and last night, as I passed the wall where I’d last seen it, I
noticed that a pile of cardboard CD shipping cases was obscuring the wall.
So…carefully, I unpiled the boxes and sure enough, there on the wall,
with John’s hand-written dialogue balloons faded to almost unreadable
paleness, was the cartoon. It had been on that wall for more than 30
years, and against all expectation had finally outlasted its author. I
considered taking it down, but finally decided it would have to follow its
own lifeline. I did not, however, restack the boxes to cover it. I left
it revealed, for a little while at least, as an inscrutable and mysterious
heiroglyphic to intrigue new viewers not lucky enough to have known its author.
What a terable surprise it was to find that John didnt get through his heart ailment. It was a peasfull going and painless for him as it should have been as he never caused a moment of greaf in my life or anyones unless truely deserved.. July 1963 I moved to 180 north Broadway in upper Nyack, just a few doors down from the Diebold family, moved in with my first of many wives, 6 to honestly share with you all. John and I soon became friends, dear friends. We loved motorcycles together, he ended up with a Vincent Shadow at the time and me with a BMWR69S then a Velocet500 thruxton, if any of you know bikes we had the best of them and rode them.There where Jags MGTDs, mersedies300 sedans, porsches, John enjoyed the MGTD the most we restored it, I took everything apart and managed to get things always running again. We had many trips taking phographs and each had darkrooms in our basements. We laughted and drank as we could back then for enjoyment and he always had his guitar when we sat for a peasfull moment and relaxed. I was working at Lamont most of our early friendship. Repairing plumbing and electrical problems in the bl=uilding and grounds department. Roger Zonair and Preston where at work with Angelo on gear for the Vema. I always wanted to go to sea but couldnt because I was in another department and Angelo said he couldnt do that. One day I played with a fire extinguisher in the main house pool area and some woman thankfully got me fired. At some point after that the Vema came in and I could see her at dock in Piermont so I went to Angelo and asked if I could go to sea, he smiled and said fill out the forms. After a hour or so I was in a office some where and was asked about the hobby of photography I put down on the ap. That was the begining then I was asked to take a camera apart and put it back together, obviously a snap and off I went to see. While there I ended up the shooter for the explosives, homesick I left the cruise after the 2nd leg in Autralia and went home to my wife and boy. There I found my old friend John waiting as we had writtensome but not alot, he wanted to know about the cruise and of coarse I encouraged him to go as you all know he did. At one point he made me this wonderfull looking brass pot pipe from the shop and all the training he was happily getting. John talked me into taking my first acid trip, Osley acid it was, we went into NYC and went I think Mike or Gerry Godwins house, he was bathing in the kitchen sink when we walked in, a memorable site. Ant way they gave me the acid and after a while it kicked in, no one else took any, the idea was that they would take me around the city and keep me safe and let me have a trip to remember, and it was. John obviously went on to become a tremendously popular scientist. He dug in and took the oportunities given him by Lamont and they where many and all if you could produce as he could. He kepty his wonderfull personality and persued his life as he could with dignaty and love for all of us, he was a truely wonderfull man. His sister Beatres and I dated for a while after my first marage failed, when He and I connected again a few years ago we talked of her she was just as he was and sadly taken far to early. I havnot seen John in person for many years, only talked on the phone and emails, my last arived soon after he pasted, joking about did you get the valve job dob=ne yet, not knowing that he was gone. When he didnt get back I assumed he was in the hospital, but Lynn my first wife , who knew John from our early days together came across the artical about him in Lamont news and she forwarded it to me.I had hoped he would come to the Vineyard this summer for a visit, we spoke about it and planed on it. I have some black and whites of him in negative form Ill dig out and print up. Truthfully I have never lost anyone that ment so much and had such a special place in my heart before. Most if not all of you dont know me, if you take the time to read this , Thanks, if you want to call or email, do so, 508-364-5452, email@example.com. sorry for the spelling, thats what happens when you dont go to college as John so sucessfully did. Im sobber now for 24 years, at one point John was returning from giving a lecture and stuck at a airport, he was happy to have a few drinks and a rest, I asked that he have one for me as I wished I could be there with him. I will always miss and love you John, your at piece and that is good. Another old friend Doug Campbell from Nyack died maybe 6 or seven years ago we where closs as well, he called telling me he would be dead tommorow he was full of cancer, we cried together on the phone and remanised about our lives together, its tough to loose good friends, but we are all lucky to have them as there is so much hatred in the world we dearly need them to find comfort sometimes. Thanks again Roy Hayes
Please accept the heartfelt condolences from all of us here at NCS for the your recent loss of John Diebold. His contribution to ocean exploration and geophysics stands tall, and we as an industry are richer for those works.
I was fortunate enough to sail with John during our initial support efforts on the Marcus Langseth, and last spoke with him at the SEG annual meeting here in Houston last fall. I am saddened by his passing.
Vice President – Operations
I’m not at all surprised that when John passed away there were a couple of motorcycles in his garage. He loved bikes. I rode – and rode pillion – on his current, ancient, BMW a few times as we made leisurely tours of Rockland County on sunny afternoons. We shared a life-long affection for bikes, though I quit riding in 1992 after a semi-serious accident, and John rode less and less as the years passed. Back in the old days he crashed far more often than I did. In fact, one of my primal memories of John in the early-mid 1960s was waiting in various emergency rooms for the doc to come out and tell me that John was OK. Fortunately, he seemed virtually indestructable.
Like John, I have a special affection for old BMW bikes (with Earles Forks, as opposed to modern telescoping forks), since my first bike, bought in 1964 probably, was a BMW R60. In fact, the bike I learned to ride on (even before I got that R60) was John’s first bike, an ancient, beat up R50 he nicknamed Nosferatu (after the decrepit vampire in Murnau’s great silent movie).
One afternoon, when I’d probably operated motorcycles for a grand total of about three minutes, we were all up in “the country” visiting some relative of a friend, and John suggested it would be a good opportunity for me to get some bike practice. I climbed onto Nosferatu, he got on behind me, and off we went. I drove for about a mile, then gingerly turned the bike around and headed back for our starting point. Unfortunately I forgot what road we needed to turn on, and was halfway through the intersection when John yelled, “Hey, this is our turn!” I was not very experienced about the turning radius of a heavy motorcycle (with kludgy Earles Forks and a rider on the back), and though I tried to make the turn it was way too late. I drove the bike (rolling at about ten mph at this point) right into a big bush at the outside corner of the turn. I went over the handlebars, and John went over me, and we both “came to” entangled in the bush, largely unhurt and laughing like fools. The bike was not damaged, but we discovered later that John had lost some special lighter that he cared about, so that was a drag. I was probably 20 or 21; John a few years younger.
I’m sure John’s arthritis and sciatica were related to all those motorcycle dumps, not to mention all the bone-chilling cold rides through snow and rain. But man, he really loved those two-wheeled widowmakers, and so did I.
July 10, 2010
I have known John Diebold since soon after he arrived at Lamont—at least 40 years.
John and I talked many times about the Caribbean with his interest in marine geophysics and mine in earthquakes and tectonics. Each of us returned several times in our careers to work on that region.
I frequently talked with John at the Lamont cafeteria during lunch about a whole range of topics from science to politics to music. I could count on him to be at lunch quite often, something sadly fewer and fewer people take advantage of today. It like TGIF was a good place to learn about what was going on with others at Lamont.
I have fond memory of John’s winning contributions to the chilly contests.
I will miss him.
11 July 2010
Some thoughts of John Diebold:
Learning of John Diebold’s passing has made me sad. At least I know in this I am in good company. I am not a scientist, so will offer these personal non-scientific recollections.
I first worked directly with John at LDGO about 1989, when, in a foreshadowing of career direction for me, I was host for a VIP visitor to Lamont and R/V Conrad, which was tied-up at Piermont. John was asked to lead the tour of Conrad. As we drove to down to the ship and throughout the visit I got to listen to John’s description of his interesting background and career path, and his excellent explanation of the scientific purposes and methods of the ship and in particular, marine seismics. This all accompanied by his sturdy sense of humor, well-applied. The VIP stuck with Lamont, and was very helpful to us in future years.
Once I mentioned to John in passing a mild bind I was in; needing a digital camera while mine was in the shop. In a few hours time I was at his house, accepting his offer of loan of his personal camera.
And it was John who converted me to vegetarianism. Chili Vegetarianism. Learning by experience that I could not best his famous meat chili, I made the switch to the vegetarian category and have since won 2nd place and 3rd place prizes. Next contest I plan to make his famous chili in his memory.
And finally, in my opinion one of the most important — no, let’s say wonderful — things John did at Lamont likely very few people know about. No pictures were taken and to my knowledge no articles were written about it.
At some point John told me that the daughter of John Hennion, LGO Geophysicist killed aboard Vema in 1961 in an explosives accident, was looking for information about her father’s work. If I remember correctly, Hennion left three small children and one on-the-way (perhaps the very daughter who was inquiring?).
John planted the idea that with the widow Hennion living just miles away and the daughter making inquiries, perhaps the institution could make some long-overdue gesture to the family. With more than 40 years gone by, perhaps it was time for the family to visit Lamont again, and to receive some indication of appreciation and institutional memory.
It happened, and I was there.
The widow and daughter came to Lamont, received copies of the LDEO 50th book (in which John Hennion’s name and photograph appear) and they got – I hope – some sense of appropriate respect and appreciation on behalf of the institution. John made this happen.
I was never at sea with John, but to the many who have such fond memories of times with him at work, seminars, chili cook-offs, lunches and more than a few beers at TG, I just wish to add – me too!
Oregon State University
College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences
LDEO Administration and Development Office 1987-2008
Palisades, NY, July 13, 2010
Multichannel seismic is truth 500 times per second in 256 channels
1) When I came to Lamont in 1994, as a graduate student
in the multichannel seismic group, it was John Diebold who made me feel
welcome, with his friendly and generous way.
John Templeton, Kuheli Dutt, and Mia Leo already wrote about
this aspect of JohnD’s personality.
I just want to add that for a foreign student, who has to overcome
language, cultural, and academic barriers,
to feel welcome upfront is very important, it makes a big difference.
This dimension is often missed by many.
Not by JohnD.
He had no responsibility to make me feel welcome.
Yet he did.
2) However, I knew of John Diebold before I met him here.
In the early 1990s I worked for Petrobras, the Brazilian oil company.
It was there where I first came across to John Diebold’s name.
His papers with Paul Stoffa and Peter Buhl on how to obtain
reliable values of seismic velocities,
by converting and analyzing seismograms to the tau-p domain,
i.e., the vertical traveltime – horizontal slowness domain,
were very popular, an almost mandatory reading at Petrobras.
And that was for a good reason.
Those were innovative seed papers, with a large offspring of practical
consequences and new insights.
The tau-p method continues to be used today,
and has been extended in many ways:
to remove multiple reflections from seismic images;
to migrate seismic reflections to their correct location in depth;
to determine detailed seismic velocity structure
of layered rock beds from seismograms collected by vertical cables
or by arrays of sensors in oil wells.
However, it is not only in Brazil that John Diebold is well known.
After I graduated from Columbia,
I taught at the University of Houston (2000-2002).
Every oil exploration geophysicist I met in Houston,
from oil companies, from service companies, from academia,
from the US and from other countries,
would ask me:
“Do you know John Diebold?”, or say:
“You came from Lamont, then you must know John Diebold.”
3) The better your loudspeaker design, the better the sound of your stereo.
The better your airgun design, the better the seismic images you get.
JohnD managed to build and tune up airgun arrays to produce the
almost mythical “polarity reversed Ricker wavelet”, which is as close as
one can get to the ideal impulsive spike source signal.
Moreover, JohnD also harnessed the detrimental sea surface
“ghost reflection” energy to contribute positively, shaping
and enhancing the Ricker wavelet produced by his airguns.
Sharp source signal means sharp reflections from rock beds and structures,
hence seismic images of increased
stratigraphic and tectonic detail,
and more reliable geologic information.
Anton Ziolkowsky, who posted a note on this web page,
praised JohnD’s airgun array designs.
If you know who Ziolkowsky is,
and who he worked for, you know that this is a big deal,
a credential of excellence.
4) “Here is the solid state streamer in the big yellow spool,
and there is Peter Buhl for scale.”
(John Diebold, a 6+ feet tall man,
in an MG&G talk, while describing a picture showing the LDEO
portable multichannel seismic equipment beside Peter Buhl,
who is ~5ft tall.)
Peter, forgive me please, but I couldn’t resist this one!
5) John Diebold was a very modest and unassuming person.
He was not really interested in fashionable stuff.
He had better things to do.
Some may remember his old rusty Toyota Corolla with a homemade wooden
rack on the roof, and the old suitcase he would take to trips and cruises,
which looked like an oversized old fashioned lunchbox.
That JohnD wasn’t in the Doherty staff
may be a side effect of his modesty.
6) JohnD would probably hate to be called a Renaissance Man.
After all, there were no motorcycles, no airguns, no cinema,
no radio, no Blues back then.
However, on many accounts, he was a Renaissance Man:
music, cinema, radio, mechanics, science.
Following the trend set by Galileo,
who spent time in the Venice shipyards learning mechanics,
who ground lenses and built telescopes to discover
the moons of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, the Moon’s craters and maria,
and the Sun spots, John Diebold also thought that good craftsmanship
enables great science, that what your eyes can’t see, your instruments
may unravel. Behind every discovery from the R/V Ewing and the R/V Langseth
cruises are JohnD’s airguns, and the sharp seismic images they enabled.
7) Once we were talking about cinema, a common interest we had.
Specifically about the French Nouvelle Vague movement,
and the movie director Jean-Luc Goddard.
When I misquoted Goddard a bit, JohnD came up with this one:
- What Goddard really said was:
“Photography is truth. Cinema is truth twenty-four frames per second.”
But you know what, Gus?
Multichannel seismics is truth 500 times per second in 256 channels.
I guess maybe Mike Purdy could consider to put these statements on a frame,
and hang them on the R/V Langseth lab wall.
They may inspire new watchstanders and marine seismologists.
No need to engrave them on a golden plate.
Just a printout on a standard wooden frame will do.
Something as simple and true as JohnD was:
“Photography is truth. Cinema is truth twenty-four frames per second.”
“Multichannel seismic is truth 500 times per second in 256 channels.”
I didn’t know John the Scientist or John the Musician, but I did know John the Human Being. We first met at Lamont in 1982 when the MCS group was housed in the Geoscience building. John dropped by the DEES department office for occasional coffee and conversation, and, as Mia reported, made us a wonderful poster of Pogo, which decorated our office for many years. At that time I knew John as a devoted father who got his children off to school in the morning, and who was very involved in their well being. He was one of the nicest people I’d ever met. After the MCS move to Oceanography, we didn’t see him as much, but he’d stop by to chat from time to time.
Fast forward to the past eight years. I probably would never have known John very well, except that he met my lovely, neighbor, Glenna (who became his long-time companion). Two very nice people had found each other.
After I became a widow, there were a number of problems in maintaining my house, and John, also a Nyack neighbor, was very helpful with advice on furnaces, windows, electricity, plumbing, chair repair, auto repair, etc. He went out of his way to help me, even with the busy schedule he kept. His last kindness to me was to get a new antenna for my radio the same week he was planning a trip to Hawaii.
I’ll always be grateful for his kindnesses, sprinkled with humor, and will remember his goodness. His untimely death is an illustration of the proverb that the good die young.
I’m Yao Bochu from China,Guangzhou Marine Geological Survey,Ministry of Land and Resources,and Diebold’s friend. We did cooperated work in South China Sea from 1979 to 1987.J.Diebold is a very good geophysist,and we work in ODP-SSP from 1999 to 2001. I always memory Dr.J Diebold!
I never went to sea with John. Never heard him play is music. Never had the
opportunity to watch him work his magic on anything mechanical. My memories of
John are far more prosaic than those who will post here. The summer of 2002, I
was working on my master’s research as part of the Earth & Environmental Science
Journalism program. I was building a simple soil color meter. The details don’t
matter much. The point was, I was having a difficult time making the electronics
and the physical design mesh. It was a miserably hot summer and I had a tiny
space carved out for myself on a workbench in the Machine Shop. Dale Chayes (the
person I’d been over-reliant on to that point) had to go to sea and I had hit a wall.
John’s was the only friendly face I saw one afternoon in the cafeteria. He was
already part of a big group, but he motioned for me to sit and asked how things
were going. I told him what was troubling me and, as the lunchtime crowd slowly
faded away, John stayed, suggesting some possible fixes to my design. He only suggested.
He never said outright that his ideas were better than mine or than any other
possible solutions. But he could have because he would have been right.
That photo of John in the Lamont 50th anniversary book is one of my favorites of him–a
big, burly guy (though much younger at the time) wholly
engrossed in a delicate little wind-up ship model. He never lost that air of genuine
inquisitiveness and honest curiosity. He was an easy person to be
around, a comfortable soul. The world seems like a harder-edged place now that
he’s gone, but it is certainly better for having him pass through.
When John received in Turkey, the first time I saw him at the airport. He was waiting for me in the domastic airport, I was waiting for him international airport, because he had changed the plane in Istanbul. But he did not say any complains for waiting there. The first caught my attention was the his sincerity and knowledge during our conversations.
I saw how my team was working with him in harmony and good humor during TAMAM cruise in Sea of Marmara in 2008 summer. When we were working on the data during our visiting to Lemont in New York, how he adds very critical questions and inputs, all we understood that John is very special. He and his son invited me, Derman, Hulya, Caner, Savas, Selin, Donna, Mike and his family, Chris to his home and made a great barbecue and played guitar with Savas and song sings in English and Turkish. He wanted and asked the meaning of the Turkish songs with a cruosity. He gave his guitar to Savas as a gift in that night. Last night in our research vessel Piri Reis, Savas played with that guitar and songs, I understand that Some people there will never be forgotten.
I cannot believe in that we lost John abrubtly. I am really so sorry for
Lamont people and TAMAM team. He was one of the most incredible guys I have
ever met. I feel so lucky to find a chance to know him and his son. I wish
I could see him one more time.
I will pray for John. He will live in our hearth and I am sure he will
follow us in the heaven. I AM SO SAD.
Good bye John…in peace…
I have just learned the tragic news about John and I still can not believe
that. I am really so sad. He was not only a good friend but also like a
father for me. I still remember the last meeting in his house like
yesterday and I have hoped to see him again. I am really so sorry. I will
never forget his helps. I will always remember and miss him.
I wish everybody in Lamont and his son all the best.
If there is anything that I can do from here [Turkey], Please, let me know.
I’m so sad about John.I was shocked when I heard this tragic news. I’m so
lucky to met John, he was the most colourful person who I ever met. He
helped us a lot when we were at Lamont. We worked and enjoyed together.
I will always remember him,
I am very sad that John Diebold lost his life.
I did not have an opportunity to meet this great guy
but always heard of his great achievements and humanity.
God bless him….
ITU Department of Geophysics
I happened to log into the LDEO site today and saw the notice about John. I worked at Lamont during the 70′s and, while I did most of my work and research in mud and paleontology, I did get to meet many of the scientists from the marine seismology group when I was on Vema and Conrad. Sadly, I never shipped out with John, but did get to meet him through others (or at the softball games at Tallman Mt Park).
I remember John as being a hard-working and highly dedicated scientist, symbolic of the early years of marine geology and geophysics; people with imagination and the willingness to go get the work done could join such notables as Doc Ewing and Bruce Heezen as they looked beneath the waves and revolutionized our understanding of the oceans and the processes of the earth. Sad. I will miss John.
The mists of time are nasty…and have clouded my memory.
I left Lamont in 1975 and have only been back for an hour or two now and then. John contributed to my sense that instrumentation was knowable, doable, fixable and of considerable use.
He was a nice guy who I wish I had known better.
I didn’t learn of John’s passing until mid-November. What a shock! Although I’ve seen the videos, I’m sorry I missed the memorial in his honor.
My earliest memory of John is of he and Peter Buhl setting up the first multichannel seismic processing operation in the then-new Geophysics Building. We’d had IBM mainframes for some years, but what were those units on their desks? Personal computers? What will they think of next?
We never sailed together or worked together so I didn’t know him well. I left Lamont in 1979, but got to know him better after I returned to the area and joined the Alumni Board, in 2005.
I enjoyed reminiscing with him about the early days of collecting data aboard the Vema and Conrad. The last time we spoke we were trying to determine which was the first cruise on which Lamont airguns were used. He had thought it was on a 1964 Vema cruise and was surprised when I told him I was on a 1964 Zapiola (Argentine Navy) airgun cruise on the Argentine shelf with three other Lamonters. Unfortunately, I never got to show him my movies, which showed the Lamont airguns in use.
At least in the realm of marine seismics and shipboard data collection John was a bridge connecting and integrating the early “LGO” period with the “L-DGO” and “L-DEO” eras. He had an amazing knowledge of Lamont history, personalities and sea stories that he loved to share – which not only kept that roots lore alive and relevant, but gave new generations of Lamonters some insight into what it was like to be at Lamont and at sea under Doc Ewing in those halcyon days.
From reading remembrances of those who knew him better or knew him in different settings I see there were dimensions of John that I hadn’t been aware of. And, sadly, I never heard him play guitar.
He was a great guy and I miss him.
Marine Seismology Dept. 1963 – 1979