We were very sad to hear the news of the death of our friend
Brother Eric Vogel on June 24, 2000. Our collaboration with Brother Eric
on the 12,000-photo Brousseau Collection
was pivotal in the growth and direction of the collections of the Berkeley
Digitial Library Project and CalPhotos. The Brousseau photographs,
taken by Brother Eric's colleague and friend
Brother Alfred Brousseau,
became the foundation for the CalPhotos database,
which delivers more than 500,000 photos a day to web users worldwide.
Brother Eric was Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science
at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California.
He taught physics and math for many years at St. Mary's College
and earlier at Bethlehem University
in the West Bank, Israel. He was an avid fisherman and took every
opportunity to go on long fishing trips.
One of his other interests was viniculture, a topic that
he published papers on, and he was for a time
Technical Director of Production at
Mont La Salle Winery, Napa, California.
In his retirement, Brother Eric became an early adopter of digital image
technology as he sought a way to make the Brousseau wildflower slides
He sold notecards, calendars, and CDs of the photos and
gave high-tech demonstrations to
academics and non-profit and state agencies in his energetic
quest to raise the $10,000 it would take to get
all the slides digitalized. In 1996, officials from the California Department of
Water Resources attended one of his presentations and introduced Brother Eric to us.
We spent the next several years putting Brother Brousseau's photos online - first
8,000 wildflower photos, and then hundreds of trees, landscapes, and fungi
(see history of the image collection).
Brother Eric kept pace
with the rapidly evolving techniques of digital imaging and correctly
predicted the course they would take, changing strategies as the technology
changed from DOS and hypercard to the World Wide Web. He owned the first
CD writer I ever saw, and his small office at St. Mary's was filled with
state-of-the-art computers and equipment. A few months before his death, he was
writing programs that made database queries to our online database so
he could download all the
Brousseau photos from our website and create an html structure for
viewing them. The resulting CD fulfilled his dream of making all
the photos available in a portable form.
I had the pleasure of working with Brother Eric over the past 4 years as
we developed the online photo database together.
Aside from being
very smart and technologically adventurous, he was a sweet, charming man
who always had a funny story about fishing, or about his old dad, a 1930's era
hobo and con artist. It was quite a treat walking around the Berkeley
campus with a tall guy who resembled the comedian Jonathan Winters
in a long black cassock and white priest's collar. I always looked forward to
his trips to Berkeley and I will sure miss seeing him around.
Berkeley Digital Library Project
Eulogy (originally published on the St. Mary's College website in June 2000)
CalPhotos (including Brousseau photos)
Photos by Brother Eric Vogel:
- Seaside Historical Mural, Pacific Grove, CA