A celebration of the life of our neighbor Lee Schipper

by Ira Serkes on October 2, 2011

This afternoon I attended a celebration of the life of our neighbor Lee Schipper.

In calendar years he was 64, but based upon all the things he accomplished one person thought Lee was really 112 .. and then another realized Lee lived to 192.

Family, energy efficiency, humor, creativity, travel, languages, music, sartorial expertise (take a look at those shirts), playfulness, transportation policy and connecting people were just some of the things Lee excelled at … these photos show just a small part of his life:

In the New York Times obituary John Holdren said:

“He was one of the first people to point out that people don’t want to consume energy,” Dr. Holdren said, “they want to consume energy services, like transportation, comfortable rooms, cold beer and so forth. And that there was an enormous variation in the amount of energy needed to perform those services.”

How true

Some of the things Lee’s family and many friends said at today’s celebration:

“There are no zero emission vehicles, there are elsewhere emission vehicles”

“It’s just as important to do good as to do well”

“He was a bearded bundle of energy”

“What is not measured well is not managed well”

“Lee was never in one place at the same time … kind of like an electron cloud”

“When you talked to Lee it was having 8 television sets playing behind you … he knew what was on all of them (not quite what they said, but you get the idea)”

“Lee saved us all money by showing us you that you paid half price if you bought a ticket from Hawaii to Washington DC with stopover in San Francisco, rather than one from San Francisco to Washington DC.”

And when once asked why he was on the phone with a travel agent, Lee said “you don’t understand … they called me!”

“He was the World Wide Web before there was a world wide web”

“Live unabashedly, love a lot”

I remember Lee’s excitement when he was selected at random (from over 3,400 entries) to be on the NPR Sunday Morning Puzzler two years ago (he won!)

We’d talked about Photovoltaic Systems on our block’s Google Group Network:

I wrote:

“Appraisers don’t know what kind of value to place on PV systems; We assigned a value to the system on a home we sold by figuring out what the average monthly electric savings were, then determined the loan amount that payment would amortize.  The panels probably have a 15-20 year life, so best to use the panel life for as the term of the loan.”

And I remember my excitement when Lee wrote back:

“you did the calculations perfect, just what I would have told my students!”

I’ve been around enough scientists and engineers to recognize high praise.

Thank you Lee. I promise to do good in addition to doing well.

Ira Serkes

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