Affable Geek was our top user. Not only did he have the highest rep count by over 20% more than the next user, he also was instrumental in forming the site policy, community, and culture. His activity was always polite, constructive, and interesting. Reading anything from Affable was always a pleasure and enlightening. Even on the day of his death, his last comment illustrated his enthusiasm for the site and its topic. It reads "This is exactly the kind of question this site was designed for. Thank you!!!!" He truly was the Affable Geek.
I didn't know Michael very well, but I did interact with him on chat quite a bit. He struck me as an honest man who lived to serve others with his time, talents, and knowledge. It's shocking to know that he completed his race so soon; too many people will never benefit from his answers to our questions.
Besides his prodigious contributions to the main site (and meta and chat), I will remember his posts on our late blog: Eschewmenical. Reading through his work there, I stumbled across a poignant line:
How can you possibly do Easter without Good Friday?
I encourage you to read the whole post, which describes the hope that Michael shared with Christians everywhere: because one man died we all can live with God forever. It's a hope that many find foolish, but I don't think Affable Geek was a fool.
As a community, we remember at times like this that people exist behind the avatars and screen names. Men and women, with families and friends and separate lives, sit behind the computer typing out their questions and answers. Let us not forget that.
And Affable Geek: we miss you already. I'm sure you would have had just the right words to say to us today.
Personally, I considered Affable Geek a friend. Though I never met him in person, I'm finding it hard to keep from tearing up. In times like these we wish we could do more. We can't even reach out to his family to comfort them during this time of sorrow. But we can at least carry on and honor his memory. I'll never forget him and his profile and site activity will always be there. His memory is always with us.
I'm still in shock that one of our greatest contributors and participants is just...gone. I didn't know him personally, and we weren't close, but he was a regular sight on the site and in chat. His death is the fourth one that has and is affecting me significantly, following my grandmother, my residential-high-school neighbor, and my dog.
Honestly, I'm also a bit haunted and bothered that none of us noticed his complete absence and spoke up for a week and three days. Not until three days after his profile was edited to let us know of the fact. But now I will be keenly aware of his continuing absence.
His death was and is a tragedy, both in real life and for this site. Nonetheless, his spirit lives on. I look forward to seeing you up there, Affable, but until then, I'll remember your presence here.
He was like this site's "cool professor" that everyone wanted to be around in an academic celebrity kind of way. Getting an answer from him authenticated your question and made you feel good for asking it.
His answers, whether or not your agreed with them, always carried a sense of legitimacy. Not like you were hearing the opinion of some stranger online, but you were seeing the official answer of AffableGeek, the Jon Skeet of Christianity.SE.
Even now, what affects me the most is the self-awareness of how much his death has affected me. I didn't hardly know anything about him. He was just a couple notches above a total stranger. All I saw these last 8 months were his thoughts on Christianity, which, now knowing that I'll never see new ones from him again, has clearly left an emotional mark. The way he approached his answers, his wit, his succinctness, his laid-back attitude, and his super-human ability to not get all riled up over anything that went on this site but to keep the peace made me feel like if I knew him, I'd really like him.
I am shocked.
This is the first Stack Exchange member's death that I know of.
He seemed like a great guy. I didn't always agree with him, but that made him a little more human to me.
Man. I am stunned. I kind of wish I knew him in real life.
Wow, I am truly saddened by this. He was an awesome fountain of information and a blessing to this SE. I looked forward to his answers on any subject. I remember when he had some marital concerns a year or so ago. I really don't know what to say other then I will miss him and I am truly grieving.
Here is something that I said about him almost 3 years before his passing.
Here is an image of him.
Been spending the last few hours pointlessly trying to discover what became of our friend. I got a new job the week before he died and my participation on the site tanked so I missed out on all this and now it's sinking in, crying through reading the transcript of the memorial chat.
There are so many missed opportunities that people have in life, most of them probably would amount to nothing, but I'd sure wished I'd have spent more time learning from him.
The compliments he gave out on for answers he liked made you feel really good about yourself.
That's a fascinating angle that really gave me new insights. Not having thought of marriage as a sacrement, I wouldn't have considered this. +1 to you, and serious kudos to those of you who started this site for exactly this reason!
He was an exceptionally open-minded individual to have taken and a great writer, an inquisitive mind as well as an excellent teacher. Everything about him and his work here shows how great he was at communicating Truth and I will sincerely miss him!
Just wanted to circle back on this.
Last August, someone uploaded additional pictures of Michael during happier times.