Loss of father (1980). Last years (1980-1982). Posthumous.

On June 29, 1980, Everett's father died of cancer in a hospital [8, 9]. There is very little written record of events in Everett's life in the following two years. Later that year, not long after his fiftieth birthday, Everett received from Wheeler a request for permission to include Everett's 1957 article in the large anthology on quantum theory and measurement that he was preparing with W. Zurek. Everett answered at once with permission [152].

Other mentions of his theory [153-156] came to Everett's attention, judging by [162], among which, as his wife recalled [157], he had special regard for the book Other Worlds by Paul Davies. Mathematicians, too, did not overlook him [158].

Another small thing that is known from this period is that when the Everetts, with Elaine Tsiang, were on a cruise on the Odessa (sailing from Florida), Elaine was mistaken for their daughter, despite the fact that she was Chinese [159]. Life apparently flowed smoothly at this time. Once, at a DBS 11:30 lunch, Don Reisler started a conversation on an abstract subject: the meaning of life and how would Everett feel if this was his last day on Earth. Any regrets, sorrows, etc.? Neither Everett nor Reisler was sick and there was no intimation of trouble—although they were no longer young—so both the conversation and the outcome are striking. Everett said he was fully satisfied and could go without any feeling that he had missed something. Reisler left for Europe that afternoon and never saw Everett again. [90]



Everett in 1982 (age 51)

On Monday, July 19, 1982--possibly the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of the article on relative states--Mark found his father not breathing. He tried to save him, but without success [123], and at Fairfax Hospital they stated death after a sudden heart attack [102]. Possibly, he had died even during the previous night [28]. Don Reisler was then in France [1]. Elaine Tsiang, too, could not arrive from Seattle [159], but she sent Nancy a touching memorial free verse [160].

Services were held at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Brook Road, on Friday, July 23 [119]. The eulogy was perfect [13].

Soon the home on Touchstone Terrace in McLean became lonely. Mark packed everything he owned into his car and drove 3,000 miles to Los Angeles, where he knew not a soul. He lived there for ten years by random earnings, writing and recording songs every day, and eventually achieving the American dream [5]—but that is a separate history. Nancy answered letters addressed to her husband, sent materials to his first biographers, assembled and arranged his papers, and settled the estate. (Not until a year and a half after Everett's death did Wheeler send him a letter, commemorating the appearance of the anthology containing the 1957 article [161]). It hardly seems possible that Wheeler was unaware of Everett's death, but that may be the case.) Liz's suicide in 1996 at age 39 broke Nancy's health. In 1998, on what would have been Hugh's 68th birthday, she died of lung cancer at home, with Mark at her side [28, 9].

It is two generations of physicists later, and Everett's concept has not yet been accepted "officially" (although more and more physicists—chief among them Bryce DeWitt—embrace it). The author would be glad if this biographic sketch, by reminding readers of the achievements of the most eccentric and unknown genius of the last century, would induce the experts to revise his place in the history of knowledge.


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