Remembering David Axon

Over the past couple of days there has been a special Memorial Event to remember David Axon, my predecessor as Head of  the School of Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex, who passed away suddenly on 5th April 2012. The memorial event has consisted of a two-day specialist discussion meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society about David’s primary research interest – Massive Black Holes in Galaxies – here on the Sussex campus and will end this afternoon with a Memorial Service in the Meeting House Chapel, which will include music and poetry.



Professor David John Axon (1951-2012)

Professor David John Axon (1951-2012)

Although I knew David Axon through his published work I didn’t know him very well at all personally. In fact we only met a couple of times. The first of those occasions was when we’d both applied for a certain job. He was interviewed before me and came into the room in which I was waiting when he had finished. You would never expect such a situation to be comfortable, but it turned out to be so because David was very friendly and direct. Those are precisely the qualities that I’ve heard described over the last few days by many people who knew him far better than I did. People say these qualities reflect his Northern heritage. I won’t argue with that, except to point out that he was born in Doncaster, i.e. in the Midlands….

As David’s successor here at Sussex all I can do is say that he clearly left the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences in excellent shape, which is testament to the energy and ability he brought to the job that I now hold.  He set a very high standard. Equally clearly, David Axon is sorely missed, by staff and students alike, not just in MPS but throughout the University.

Such occasions are inevitably a bit sad, but this occasion is, as it should be, very much the celebration of a life and I’m sure David will live on in the memories of those who knew him closely, as it will for one person who met him only briefly. Remembering David Axon is something many people will do for a very long time.

2 Responses to “Remembering David Axon”

  1. I glimpsed him briefly when I was at Jodrell Bank, where he returned briefly between Baltimore and Hertfordshire.

    As a subscriber to The Observatory, I read the obituary by R. C. Smith:…132..282S .
    A&G also has an obituary:….53e..37R .

    • I forgot again: the ADS URLs, because they are in a strange form, are not expanded correctly by WordPress. In any case, ADS doesn’t have the text of the obituaries, but those interested could look them up in the library.

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