This past weekend I learned that MIT astronomer John Huchra passed away of a heart attack. An obituary detailing Huchra and his contributions has appeared in the New York Times.
Huchra's death has had a profound impact on many astronomers. Part of it is certainly that his passing was unexpected. But much larger part is that he was an outstanding human being who was not only passionate about science, but also cared deeply for those around him. I've seen several moving tributes by friends and colleagues on Facebook and by email. There is clearly a profound sense of loss among the worldwide astronomical community; we lost a dear member of our family.