I had the pleasure of watching Jim Weirich teach in action a few months back at the Rhode Island Ruby Users Group. He did a presentation on how he approaches test driven development and some of the tools he uses, particularly rspec-given, a library he wrote to bring a natural given/when/then syntax to rspec.
It was an impressive talk, even more so for being over a Google Hangout. He was able to teach and respond to feedback without being in the room, all off the cuff, all remotely. He was experimenting with teaching remotely because he was good at teaching and you can’t travel all the time, and this was a way for him to teach more people. Over the years I’ve watched most of his conference presentations and the passion for and skill at teaching was evident.
So when I heard of his passing I felt an emptiness that I normally associate with the loss of someone I actually know. Jim Weirich was part of helping me and many others become better programmers even though he’d never met me. Losing someone like that is truly a cause for mourning, and I will miss him.