David Hogan (dhog) - memorial

Elly Hogan's eulogy for her brother

I'd like to thank you, on behalf of the Hogan family, for coming here today to remember and celebrate the life of my brother, David Gordon Hogan. I am delivering the eulogy for my little brother and I speak today as his big sister.

Over the past couple of weeks, my family has received a great deal of support and comfort from many people, particularly from members of the Epping Presbyterian community here. I would like thank you all for the cards, prayers, flowers and well wishes that we have received, and also to acknowledge our overseas visitors, my aunt Doreen Hogan and my cousin Raewyn Pattemore from New Zealand.

My brother David was a special and unique person - he had some exceptional abilities, both of intellect and personality, and although he only lived half of his three score years and ten, he accomplished many of the things that he wished to do in this time.

I remember how excited I was the day when my brother David was brought home from the hospital in late 1968 and of being a small child leaping up and down on the settee, trying to catch a glimpse of the newcomer into our family.

David was a fairly quiet and even-tempered child, though he could often be quite chirpy and talkative about subjects that meant a lot to him. In keeping with many members of the Hogan clan, David liked a bit of a joke, and I have to say that as the youngest, David was often the brunt of a lot of teasing and practical-joke-playing from the rest of us.

There were four of us younger children from the Hogan and Feather families who played together on Dunlop Street and Second Avenue in Epping - David and myself, and Wendy and Peter Feather. We spent a childhood together that by today's standards might perhaps be described as untrammelled, as we roamed around, riding billycarts, building cubbyhouses, exploring storm water drains, and rambling with the dog on some of the bushland left in Epping.

There would often be times when Peter Feather and I would try and get David out to play a game of cricket or football, but with limited success. Because you see, David's mind wasn't on the game - his mind was on higher things. He'd be wandering around in outer field somewhere - the absent-minded professor junior, thinking about mathematics.

The great love of David's life was mathematics - it's a very difficult gift for most of us to understand, but from a very early age, David was interested in maths. When my mother wheeled his stroller through the supermarket, he read out the numbers on the price tags.

I remember that at a young age my brother constructed a slide rule - which apparently calculated some impressive things - and was taken to the headmaster of the primary school to show him this interesting invention. David had some significant illnesses as a child, such as asthma, which he in some ways welcomed as an opportunity to stay at home and to do more maths. He was also keenly interested in electronics, in particular in building a cherry crystal radio.

David was dux of Epping West Primary School in 1980. In 1981 he went to James Ruse Agricultural High School. As a young student he was recognised by maths teachers and academics alike to possess exceptional mathemathetical talent.

While at high school, he attended Maths Summer Schools and was first in the NSW Junior Maths Competition in 1984 and in the Senior Maths Competition in 1986, the latter of which I believe he won on the basis of an exam that he did at 2 am on an air flight back from participating in a Math Olympiad).

He was a member of the Australian team to the 26th International Maths Olympiad in Helsinki in 1985 and the 27th International Maths Olympiad in Warsaw in 1986 where he was a bronze medallist. His insights into his experience of these events were instrumental in the development of James Ruse's International Maths Olympiad program. In 1986 David was awarded the T. G. Room Medal for the highest State 4-Unit Maths pass.

David took his Bachelor of Science degree at Sydney University with first class honours, and subsequently completed his PhD in Computer Science there.

In 1997 he left Australia to work for Oracle Computer Company in San Francisco. In 1998 he obtained work at Lucent Technologies, formerly known as Bell Labs, in New Jersey, where he became a research scientist. This had long been his ambition.

David greatly enjoyed living in the United States, and was a willing and eager tour guide for my parents when they visited the US a few years ago.

Like many mathematical people, he had a keen appreciation of music, both as a listener and a participant. He bought a keyboard and taught himself to play. He also had many diverse musical interests, from classical through to Goth and industrial music. Once when he visited me while I was living in Melbourne a few years ago, he took himself off to some obscure inner city location to listen to 'industrial music' (whatever that might be) in the middle of the night or perhaps it was the early hours of the morning.

I remember David in more recent times on his visits to Australia as a genial if slightly enigmatic figure clad in dark clothing, inevitably accompanied by a small black hessian backpack with an umbrella poking out of it.

David had a great love of different cuisines - while he was a student at Sydney Uni, he must have eaten out at every Thai and Vietnamese restaurant on King Street in Newtown. When he was entertaining my parents in the States, he wouldn't let them get on to the plane until he'd taken them to a Thai restaurant that he believed was very good. Even when he was a child, he was quite interested in cooking. I remember some of his creations, such as mint pavlova and 'surprise toast' - as the youngest daughter, I always got what could only be described as the most 'burnt offering' in regard to 'surprise toast' - it was difficult to work out which part of this concoction was meant to be the surprise.

David also had a very offbeat sense of humour and a love of the absurd - he loved the humour of the Goon Show from quite a young age. We sometimes used to dress up as kids and re-enact scenes from British comedy series such as Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. More recently, as an almost-New-Yorker living in Hoboken, New Jersey, David became a great Seinfeld fan.

As can be imagined, David loved science fiction. He was very keen on Dr Who and Blake's Seven, and was a Star Trek fan. He enjoyed the books of Terry Pratchett and the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, such as The City of Lost Children and Delicatessen. He also introduced me to the writings of the political satirist Michael Moore before they hit Australia.

On his last visit to Australia a year ago, I took David to see the film, A Beautiful Mind, about the life of the Nobel prize-winning mathematician, John Nash. In fact, I think we were pretty much the first people in line at the first screening of the film at Leichhardt cinema. David was greatly moved by this film, and its story of the brilliant mathematician who is not necessarily understood or appreciated by society for his ideas.

David had a capacious mind; he questioned many things and was not afraid to express his doubts. It could not be said of my brother that he did not think deeply enough of the big issues in life - on the contrary, he pondered many aspects of life in great depth.

My brother was also a gentle and sensitive person. He loved animals and small children; he took a great interest in babies. He abhorred violence of any kind, and indeed, the last email that I received from him was about the war in Iraq and the foolishness of politicians in not listening to people's desire for peace.

When I experienced a significant illness last year, David was very supportive of me, ringing my parents for updates on my condition and defending me against the peccadillos of the medical profession.

There is a sense of unreality for my family in coming to terms with the death of its youngest member, and also a member who lived at a distance from us, and whom we only saw every couple of years, although we kept in close phone contact. We take some comfort in the fact that despite the brevity of his life, he was able to explore his interests and to exercise his talents to the fullest.

In closing, I would like to turn to something from my own history, the writings of a C14th nun, Julian of Norwich. Unlike David, I'm a literary person rather than a mathematical one, and I take comfort today in the words of this woman written centuries ago. Julian of Norwich had a series of dreams in which she felt God was showing her various things about aspects of our life on earth, in particular about pain and suffering. At the very end of her book Revelations of Divine Love, she asked God what the meaning of these things was.

From the time these things were first revealed I had often wanted to know what was out Lord's meaning. It was more than fifteen years after that I was answered in my spirit's understanding. 'You would know our Lord's meaning in this thing? Know it well. Love was his meaning. Who showed it you? Love. What did he show you? Love. Why did he show it? For love. Hold on to this and you will know and understand love more and more. But you will not know or learn anything else - ever!'

So it was that I learned that love was our Lord's meaning. And I saw for certain, both here and elsewhere, that before ever he made us, God loved us; and that his love has never slackened, nor ever shall. In this love all his works have been done, and in this love he has made everything serve us; and in this love our life is everlasting. Our beginning was when we were made, but the love in which he made us never had beginning. In it we have our beginning.

All this we shall see in God for ever. May Jesus grant this.


Thank you.