Farewell my friend, István Mayer

István has left us. I first met prof. István Mayer in 1998, when I was on my first pre-doctoral stay in Heidelberg. I was just starting to study his work on basis set superposition error correction and I think he found kind of amusing that a Ph.D. student from Girona became so interested in his Chemical Hamiltonian Approach and had his own CHA/F code. Although he always preferred to work alone, he accepted me his group (i.e. himself, his modest office with two small wooden chairs and his beloved kvk) the following year, for three months, where I began to know him as a researcher and as a unique individual.

István in his office, February 1999

Against the odds, we coped quite well with each other that pre-doctoral stay eventually evolved into a fruitful collaboration for more than 15 years; with István visiting us several times at the University of Girona. István was dearly loved in Girona, and I think he and Márta really enjoyed being here. Although he initially tried to communicate with the language he felt it was closest to ours (i.e. Latin), he soon realized we all felt below his expectations. In 2013 he received from us the Gamboa-Winkler Award from the Royal Spanish Academy of Chemistry, in an emotional ceremony. That was his last visit to our group.

István leaves an indelible imprint on the hearts and minds of us who knew him well. A tireless hard worker, health permitting and having enough provisions of coffee, he was the most complete scientist and with the highest moral standards I’ve ever met. Always generous sharing with us all his knowledge, patiently, without ever asking for anything in return, simply because it was his duty. Necesse est!

At 77 years old one of the biggest has left us. Perhaps not sufficiently well known by the general public (with the exception of his celebrated Mayer bond orders), he leaves an impressive legacy. Much of it is found in his book Simple theorems, proofs and derivations in Quantum Chemistry, which, on the other hand, nicely describes his essence: a modest, simple and close person, and passionate about his work…and doing derivations.

Farewell my friend, you will be greatly missed!