Huntley used to tell people that we first met when I was still in diapers. True, but that was because I had chosen the somewhat unoriginal idea to dress up as a baby for a friend’s Hallowe’en party. His costume, however, was even more unoriginal: that of a bureaucrat, having just come from a formal meeting with no time to change out of his suit. We spent the evening discussing politics in very bad French and started to go out together shortly thereafter.
His facility with French subsequently improved remarkably thanks to immersion courses in Quebec, the first at Laval University and the second in Chicoutimi a few years later, which we attended together in the summer of 1983. Huntley also became fluent in German, which served him well during his stints teaching at a research institute in Vienna.¹ His ambition was to learn Japanese as well, but despite his many trips to Japan, he didn’t quite get around to learning that language. He was too busy with other matters such as his political involvements, academic degrees, research papers, travel, and his two favourite sports, skiing and tennis. For a number of years he was unable to play tennis, however, due to RSI [repetitive strain injury], so he took up badminton instead. Once—only once!—we played badminton together. He tried hard to hide his dismay when I flagged after less than half an hour on the court.
He was a hard guy to keep up with in other sportive endeavours such as hiking and skiing. During our many ski trips together to Mont Tremblant, the White and Green Mountains in New Hampshire, and Vermont and the Austrian Alps when we were living in Vienna, he would obligingly accompany me on the first run of the day, and then would take off for the double diamonds while I stuck to the tamer beginner and intermediate runs.
One sport we were able to enjoy together was golf, partly because we were both abysmally bad at it. I couldn’t hit the ball very far, while Huntley’s swing was much more forceful, but multi-directional. One time he even managed to hit the ball backwards, causing the golfers behind us to run for cover. We found that the best solution, given our limitations, was to rent a golf cart that I would drive with great delight over the hilly terrain of our favourite course, leaving it frequently to run off into the rough to fetch his many errant golf balls.
Huntley’s keen intelligence extended well beyond academia, evidenced by his interest in ancient cultures, art, architecture, and history. During our many trips to Europe, we would visit numerous galleries, museums, castles, and historic sites. Once, however, due to the slow pace demanded by his intense thoroughness in examining every architectural detail, he was locked inside a winding stairwell tower at Mont-Saint-Michel by a diligent security guard who assumed that everyone had left.
Although Huntley and I separated ten years ago, we continued an amicable relationship. He would come over for supper every few weeks and fill me in on his latest triumphs on the tennis court or ski hill, or on his continuing research. Of course we would keep each other updated on news of family and friends. He always remembered my birthday and continued to be very generous with his gifts and invitations to nice restaurants.
Huntley was a faithful friend and correspondent, keeping in regular touch with his extensive circle of friends and colleagues in Asia, Europe, and North America who always appreciated visits from him as well during his travels to their locales. When he first told me the news of his cancer diagnosis three years ago, I was devastated, not being able to imagine that this vibrant person would be no more. Of course, this news was even more devastating for Lahouaria, his partner over the last several years. Despite her deepening grief, she did a remarkable job of looking after Huntley as he eventually succumbed to the inexorable progression of the disease. I would like to pay tribute to her today for her love and care for him, especially in the past three years since his diagnosis.
Huntley did not believe in an afterlife, saying “this is all we’ve got; make the most of it.” And he did. This is his lesson to us, and because of his remarkable gifts, he has enriched us all. This then, is his immortality: he will live on in the hearts and memories of those whose lives he touched in so many ways.