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Tribute to Bill Riedel from Patrick De Wever

I began my studies as a geologist in Lille where I defended my PhD in 1975. Being a field geologist, I have had the privilege to go for one year in 1976 for a post-doctoral stay at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to learn more about micropaleontology, and specifically on radiolarians under the guidance of Bill Riedel. Bill welcomed me at the airport and proposed a place to stay for the first days under the friendly help of Demetrio Boltowskoy. He introduced me to the Californian way of life considering young people as adult enough to find their own ways, but at the same time having open discussions to allow us to understand where the paths to avoid were.

Bill and Elizabeth have been very helpful for our young family and did not hesitate to do babysitting for our young baby to allow us to visit some special events. They also allowed us to discover some more original aspects, such as the agricultural practice of taking care or orchards (for avocadoes and grapefruit) they managed on week-ends. Finally they offered us a sort of local family.

When I went back to France, Bill’s family came to my University in Lille for one full year. It was a perfect opportunity to further strengthen our relations. It was also a period where I discovered some others aspects of the family since the whole family (Bill, Elizabeth, Catherine, Philippe & David) became active members of our association, in my village, where we conducted archeological excavation around a medieval castle and Merovingian and Carolingian cemetery.

Here we hosted meals and nights in our cold and humid sleeping bags, but with a warm ambiance. It was also perfect condition to know each other and for them to became fluent in French.

During the stay of Bill in Lille I took the opportunity of his prestigious personality to gather the European community of radiolarists during the first EuroRad meeting, in 1978, followed in 1980 by Basel, Bergen -1982 and Leningrad -1984 (Saint-Petersburg) and became InterRad in 1986.

Radiolarians had their first explorers during the nineteenth century, but these first pioneers were not followed by chronic studies. Bill’s work on radiolarians from the oceans gave a definitive impulse to this science in oceanography and we can say that most of us are more of less daughters and sons of his work.

Patrick De Wever,
emeritus Professor
Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris
Thanks to Phillipe R. to revew my text