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Words of Remembrance for Janet A. Mattei

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I received the news with great pain. I had the privilege of meet she in Montevideo, 1992 in one Convention of LIADA. (Liga Iberoamericana de Astronomia) I would also like to express my condolences to Dr. Mattei's family and friends. —Esmeralda Mallada (Uruguay)


I was really shocked when reading the sad news about Janet. The more as she seemed to recover.

My sincerest condolences to Mike and family and to the staff and friends at the AAVSO.—Wolfgang Quester (Germany)


I wish to express my deepest sympathies and more sincere condolences to Janet's family Faatoito Mike ( as we said in Tahitiin this sad situation)

I had never met Janet Mattei but read a lot of litterature about her She was a great Lady —Roland Santallo (Tahiti)


I can't express how sad I am to hear about Janet. I was just thinking the other day that among all the people I know, Janet is the most selfless person of them all. I think about this often, and since I've heard the news I have been remembering even the smallest instance of love, care, humor, and joy that Janet provided. And this is just what makes this so hard.

Janet did so much for me that when I look back at it all, I realize I owe so much to her. But knowing Janet, the only thing she wanted was for me to be happy and a good friend. I came to the AAVSO as an summer intern when I was only 16 and the AAVSO was like a family to me. I was just looking for a summer job in an area that I enjoyed, but I can't tell you all the unexpected positives that I got out of it. After a few weeks, she got me involved in a research project on RS Ophiuchi. She was so enthusiastic and encouraging of my work that she had me present my research not only at the AAVSO meeting, but she actually told me to come with her to the AAS meeting that January to present a poster. What a thrill that was! I was Janet's special guest at the meeting. Not only that, she went to the IAU meeting and presented our work, and she showed a picture of me at her talk and emphasized that I was the one who did the research (which was definitely an exaggeration, because it was her along with the AAVSO staff that really deserved the credit). I worked the following summer and then went to the CfA where I continued to work in conjunction with Janet and the AAVSO.

She wrote letters of recommendation for me, and I am pretty sure that without her mentoring and her belief in me, I would not have gotten into half the colleges where I was accepted. She basically single-handedly got me admitted to Harvard. In the following years, we would go out to dinner and she would always insist on treating me. She gave me so much attention and made me feel so special, but I am by far not unique in this category. I still cannot believe how one person could give so much to so many people, and her enthusiasm for doing so was because she truly loved people no matter who they were.

My family knows Janet well and she is not just a loss to me but to my family as well. My mom always refers to Janet as my astronomy mother, and she is absolutely right. Even my friends knew Janet, and just meeting her once was enough for her to make a positive impression that they did not forget. But through Janet, I became part of the AAVSO family. I got to know Mike, many on the AAVSO staff, and even a number of observers, and they all have been so outgoing and encouraging toward me. I was so lucky to have Janet and the AAVSO family introduce me into the world of astronomy. I am still in astronomy right now as 3rd-year graduate student at Arizona and I am about to take my oral prelim and start my thesis. I was very much looking forward to telling Janet about my research and graduate school. She was so happy that I chose to continue in astronomy, but she also made it clear that she would just as happily support me in whatever I chose to do in life. There is no one else out there like her that I have met. I miss Janet already, because she was my greatest inspiration in what I do. I send my condolences to all in the AAVSO family and to Mike and I sympathize with their unimaginable loss.—Ben Oppenheimer


I just read the extremely sad news. I didn't believe my eyes at the first look at the subject. This is a great loss to astronomy (not restricted to variable star astronomy). She has been a great person always encouraging us both observers and researchers, always with kind heart to everyone. I can't forget her kind words when we met at the IAU General Assembly held in Kyoto. She gave a talk at the VSOLJ Meeting held in conjunction with this IAU GA, and shared pleasant free time with our members after the meeting. I saw her at almost all related IAU GA programs, and was deeply impressed by her enthusiasm and wide interest to astronomy. Just some time before the entire assembly program is over, she caught me and gave special words of good-bye in case she may not see me again during the session. This was the last words I heard from her. Please convey my deepest regret to the deceased, world most important astronomer. —Taichi Kato (Japan)


I heard the excruciatingly painful news at the AAVSO HQ yesterday afternoon where I was waiting with my wife Gamze and my dear friends at the HQ. Words would do injustice to express our grief and feelings. Janet was our everything; a second mother to Gamze and myself, in our home away from home.

We will always cherish our memories about her and will always love her, from deep within our hearts. A tribute will be posted on our webpage later this weekend.

I believe Janet already took her place among the greatest humanitarians in history. In order to honor her forever, I recommend, as a member for 20 years now,that the AAVSO Council to rename the HQ building as "The Clinton B. Ford and Janet Akyuz Mattei Astronomical Data and Research Center". This is the least we can do for the extraordinary human being who dedicated her whole life to the association.

With my sincere sympathies to our friend Mike, Janet's family and the AAVSO family.

Janet hanimcigimiza Tanri'dan rahmet, sevenlerine bassagligi diliyoruz. —Haldun I. Menali


A very sad day yesterday.I first heard the news at the Council Meeting,RASC Edmonton Centre from other amateur astronomers with no interest in variable stars;but they all knew of her and held her in high esteem. My own memory of Janet goes back to the occasion many years ago when I was in Boston and called her to ask to see Headquarters.She told me to come on over and she dropped everything to show me around,introduce me to Elizabeth and the rest of the gang and showed me the then fledgling computer system;all this with her special blend of enthusiasm and warmth.It is this personal touch that has been the hallmark of AAVSO . My heartfelt condolences to Janet's family ,friends and colleagues at AAVSO —Pat Abbott


I was very sorry to hear about Janet. She was a very remarkable person and we all are the better for having known her. My condolences to Mike, her family, and friends.

I've been a member for over 22 years now (how the years pile up!) and I can't imagine the AAVSO without her. It truly is the end of an era. —Walter MacDonald II


Just received this message as I shut down before going to Auckland. A very sad moment and quite a shock as she appeared to be recovering well. My deepest sympathy to friends and family. —Stan Walker


What I sad news even to a foreigner like myself in Hong Kong. Last year August I got chance to meet her in Stellafane and AAVSO office with friends & S&T editors. What a nice lady ! I always remember her by heart. —Alan Chu (Hong Kong)


What a sad day for astronomy, and variable star astronomy in particular. I only met Janet once, in Hawaii and thought I was rather forward in kissing her hand! But she just had a good laugh - and yes, she remembered me too, some upstart brit! I got the impression she was a big lady in a small frame. But now you are not shut in a small body, you can wander among the stars you loved so much. May your friends and family be blessed by them. —Mike Poxon (UK)


My condolences to the staff and members of AAVSO and to Mike. Janet will surely be missed and judging from the list of emails, she touched everyone of us in some special way. Her spirit will then live on. Thanks Janet. —Paul Norris


Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to meet Dr. Mattei. It is very obvious from all the e-mails from all over the world that she was a very special person. My deepest sympathies go out to her family and her many friends. —Richard Doxtater


We are very pity that this wonderful woman has passed away prematurely. We remember her from Burbon-Lancy conference on variable stars as full of life optimistic person. It's very sad to know that we shall never meet her in this life. We offer our cheer condolence to everybody who knows this outstanding astronomer and inspirer of AAVSO. —N.Katysheva, I.Volkov, S.Shugarov, N.Volkova. Sternberg Institute, Moscow (Russia)


May Janet Rest in Peace, God bless her and her Family at this sad time. —Keith Geary


I had the privilege to meet Janet for the first time at the spring meeting in Hawaii 2002. I walked over to introduce myself and she turned around and gave me a big hug! I will always remember her kind words and encouragement. My thoughts and condolences to Mike and family and the staff at the AAVSO. —Rod Stubbings (Australia)


Like Rod Stubbings, I had the privilege of meeting Janet for the first time at the spring meeting in Hawaii 2002. There are a great many things I am indebted to Janet for and I will miss her greatly. To Mike and family, please accept my heartfelt condolences.

She has paved the way to the stars for many.—Peter Nelson (Australia)


This sad news which has come today by e-mail has mentioned me up to the profoundity of my soul and has plunged me in a deep shock. For a long time I silently sat in front of my PC display cannot do anything.

Unfortunately I could not meet with Mrs. Mattei, and our correspondence is limited only to several messages by e-mail in 90th years. But I'll always consider Mrs. Mattei as my instructor and the teacher. In 1991 (the year that was vague for our country) due to assistance of Mrs. Mattei I became a member of the AAVSO and have finally passed to the camp of variable star observers. I am immensly grateful to Mrs. Mattei that she could understand me and became my inspirer. I'll not exaggerate if I'll tell that practically everything that I've achieved in my observing practice I've achieved with direct and indirect assistance of Mrs. Mattei.

Moreover, all this time I felt her invisible presence, as if she was here, under the cold Moscow skies, and was helped me in my observations with a kind advice and huge experience. Now at me very sharp feeling of loss of very close and expensive(dear) person. Now I very sharply feel, that the person has left very close and road to me. Now I have very sharp feeling of loss of the very close and dear person for me.

My sincere condolences to everyone who knew and loved Mrs. Mattei, to her family and friends, to all members and friends of the AAVSO. —Dmitry Matsnev (MAV) Pleione Association Moscow, (Russia)


The Association Francaise des Observateurs d'Etoiles Variables (AFOEV) council, Michel Verdenet, President of the AFOEV, Emile Schweitzer, Joel Minois, Jean Gunther, Dominique Proust and all the members of the AFOEV express their condolences to Mike, Janet's husband, their families and all the AAVSO staff. A bright star is dead.—Dr Dominique Proust (Department of Cosmology; Paris-Meudon Observatory)

Le deces de Janet Mattei nous attriste bien profondement. Tout d'abord parce que son dynamisme et son enthousiaste ont ete cruellement interrompus par la maladie; ensuite parce qu'elle fut un des personnages les plus marquants de l'AAVSO, par l'extraordinaire travail accompli au cours des annees, en particulier par l'installation d'un siege social et d'un centre d'analyse et de donnees dans de nouveaux locaux remplacant les anciens bureaux de Concord avenue a Cambridge. Enfin, elle porta au plus haut la science des etoiles variables, que ce soit dans les conferences internationales ou aupres des communautes d'astronomes amateurs. Sa gentillesse et son devouement s'ajoutaient a une efficacite et a une competence hors pair.

L'AFOEV a eu le privilege de la recevoir et de l'honorer lors de la conference internationale de Bourbon-Lancy en 2002. Ce fut sans doute la derniere conference a laquelle elle assista avant de tomber gravement malade. L'astronomie des etoiles variables est en grand deuil, une grande etoile vient de s'eteindre.

Le Conseil d'Administration de l'AFOEV, Michel Verdenet son President, Emile Schweitzer, Joel Minois, Jean Gunther, Dominique Proust et tous les membres de l'Association Francaise des Observateurs d'Etoiles Variables adressent a Mike son mari, a sa famille et a toute l'equipe de l'AAVSO leurs plus sinceres condoleances. —The Association Francaise des Observateurs d'Etoiles Variables (AFOEV)

English version of this message follows (English translation courtesy of Gamze Menali, AAVSO Headquarters)

The death of Janet Mattei saddens us deeply. First of all because her dynamism and her enthusiasm have been cruelly interrupted by her disease; then because she was one of the most outstanding characters of the AAVSO, by her extraordinary work achieved during the years, in particular by the establishement of the new HQ building and a center of analysis and data replacing the old offices of Concord avenue in Cambridge. Lastly, she carried the science of variable stars to its highest, either in the international conferences or in the eyes of amateur astronomers. Her kindness and devotion were added to an effectiveness and competence, two traits difficult to be found in someone else.

AFOEV had the privilege to have and honor her at the time of the international conference of Bourbon-Lancy in 2002. It was undoubtedly the last conference she attended before falling seriously sick. The astronomy of variable stars is in deep mourning, a big star has just been extinguished. The Board of directors of AFOEV, Michel Verdenet - President, Emile Schweitzer, Joel Minois, Jean Gunther, Dominique Proust and all the members of the French Association of the Variable Star Observers address their most sincere condolences to her husband Mike, her family and all of the AAVSO staff.


I've only been involved with the AAVSO (tangentially) for the past half-year or so. Not having had the opportunity to get into real VSO-ing yet, I gave my talents to the Chart Team and the Comparison Star Database Working Group by creating new online tools for them to streamline their processes.

I was really looking forward to meeting Janet in Berkeley in July (I was sure she was going to make it there), and telling her how much I enjoyed helping the AAVSO out in that manner, and that I was so grateful to have been in the right place at the right time to make it happen just when the teams really needed it.

Dang it. It wasn't that I wanted the pat on the back...I wanted to pat her on the back and say to her, "Great job...with life, Janet!"

My most heartfelt condolences to Mike and all of Janet's very extended family. —Christopher Watson


I had the privilege of meeting Janet for the first time at the Spring meeting in Tucson last year. While our meeting was brief at Kitt Peak, she was very warm, friendly and sincere. During our conversation, I remember making a statement which she repeated a couple times to herself as we were talking. It was easy to tell that Janet was listening and making mental notes not only about the conversation but about all the people she was meeting at the conference. You could see in her eyes that she loved meeting new people and making new friends.

I also had a great surprise one day when Janet personally phoned me at work to pass on some information. Talk about a way to make my morning! It was refreshing to talk to her and made my steps lighter for the rest of the day. Her words of encouragement were always very special.

Janet's warmth and kindness reminded me a lot of how a mother cares for her children. It's evident in all the lives of those she touched. I will always remember Janet as a caring friend and "mother of the AAVSO family". I will surely miss her.

My sincere condolences to Mike and family and to the staff and friends at the AAVSO.—Vance Petriew (Canada)


I was very distressed here at the headquarters of 'The Astronomer' in England to receive news of the loss of Janet Mattei.

I met her on numerous occasions both in USA and England. On one occasion she delivered a memorable lecture at the AGM of 'The Astronomer' in Basingstoke. On that occasion many people attended who had not met Janet before but she quickly developed a friendship which no doubt applied to other groups in parts of the world which she visited. During an IAU meeting in England she took the trouble to introduce many key professionals who had travelled from all over the world.

She mentioned to me once that she had been director of the AAVSO about the same time I had been editor of 'The Astronomer'. Although her role was far more demanding, she often found time to give me advice where it was requested and this was much appreciated. Her role of developing ties between professionals and amateurs was legendary and I particularly remember the meeting I attended in Huntsville when her great enthusiasm was very evident in the exciting PRO-AM search for GRB afterglows.

I have been a member of the AAVSO for many years and send our condolences go to both Janet's family and all our AAVSO friends. —Guy M Hurst Editor, The Astronomer (England)


Dr. Mattei's death has stunned me and my family considerably. I first met her at a fall meeting in Cambridge in 1985 where she was warm and extremely helpful to me, a then VERY new variable star observer. I will always remember her kindness, her willingness to go that extra distance to help others, and her grand intelligence.

My deepest condolences to her family, AAVSO members, staff and all colleagues. —John A. Blackwell


I was very saddened to hear the news of the death of Janet. I was fortunate to have met her on two occasions - both in England. The first was (I think) in 1994 when Janet was over here by invitation of the RAS. Myself and several others were invited to attend an informal gathering at Cambridge University to discuss amateur-professional collaboration in Variable Star astronomy. Although I had never before met Janet at this time, she warmly welcomed me with a hug and kiss. After being with her for all of ten minutes I felt as if I had known her for many years. George Alcock was also at that meeting. Talk about sharing a day with inspirational people!

A couple of years later I again met her at a meeting of the 'The Astronomer'organisation, where she gave a presentation on Variable Stars. Again her welcome was warm and friendly, and I remember she spent quite some time with me discussing the various light curves I had on display at the meeting - in particular that of DY Per. I count myself lucky to have had the chance to discuss my own light curves with 'Janet Mattei'!

To me, Janet was a warm and very friendly person, as well as being an inspiring influence on myself in the field of Variable Star observing. The Director's award which I was fortunate enough to receive in 2003, has suddenly become a little more precious.

The AAVSO, and variable star observers everywhere have lost a great champion and friend.

My very sincerest condolences to her family and friends.—Gary Poyner (England)


The passing of Janet Mattei came as a shock to me. I have only known her through two or three letters she wrote to me back in the late 70s, early 80s, but she came across as enthusiastic, warm and supportive to my endeavours. The fact that we have never met face to face hardly seems to have mattered. I feel I have lost a genuine friend. I extend my condolences to her family and friends. —Mati Morel (Canada)


This is a sad day for all of us. My condolences to family and friends. I will light a candle under the stars for Janet. —Mika Luostarinen (Finland)


I'm sending my deepest sympathies to all of you at AAVSO HQ, and my condolences to Mike and Janet's family. This is very sad news. Janet was such a wonderful person. I first met her during an AAVSO meeting in Switzerland, back in 1997.

This still is one of the best astronomical events I ever intended, not at least due to the warm hospitality expressed by Janet. I still remember very well that after I had introduced myself she gave me a big hug ! The leadership that Janet demonstrated, combined with her deep human touch, should serve as an example to all of us.

This is a great loss ! —Tonny Vanmunster (Belgium)


I am deeply saddened to hear that Janet passed away. Although I never had the opportunity to meet her, I'm sure she was a wonderful person with much enthusiasm and expertise to sell. She will be always be cherished and deeply missed.

My deepest condolences to her family, AAVSO members-staff and all the pro-amateur astronomers.

May God bless you always, Janet. —Stephen M. Brincat (Malta)


I've just returned home after a couple of days away celebrating the arrival of a new grandson to read the very sad news of Janet's death. I first met Janet around 1994 when I attended an informal gathering at Cambridge University to discuss amateur-professional collaboration in Variable Star astronomy. Although I had never before met her before, she warmly welcomed me with what I later came to know as the "Janet hug" - a very warm and affectionate greeting.

I next met her a couple or so years later, again in the UK, where she turned as I entered the room and immediately recognised me and gave me another hug. I was extremely impressed that she should have remembered me as we had not communicated at all in the interim.

I was to meet Janet twice in 2002. The first was at the 2002 AAVSO Hawaii meeting after which we shared a flight from Hawaii to the main-land USA where, despite having run this exhausting Meeting she still found the energy to discuss the analysis of variable star light curves! The second was at the AFOEV Meeting in Bourbon-Lancy, France, where, at the banquet at the end of the meeting we discussed how international co-operation should proceed.

Janet will be sorely missed by all. Please accept the condolences not just from the Variable Star Section, but from the whole of the British Astronomical Association. —Roger Pickard, Director, BAA Variable Star Section, (England)


May I say that everyone has been deeply affected by the passing of Dr. Janet Mattei. Myself included.

Global outpouring of all relevant emotions is touching, necessary and part of the healing process. Moving on is also essential in the healing process. Thousands of emails to each other is preaching to the choir. Let's move on, and leave each to their own grief.

Thank you Janet, for being you and touching us all in your own unique way. —Steve and Rosie Dodder

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