4AH – Remembering Henry
Four years later and it still seems barely credible. Personally I am amazed how life goes on which such obstinate normalcy. Henry’s friends, brothers and sister get older, the world turns, seasons pass, new art, books, movies and games come into being which he will never see, almost as if he had never existed. Only those of us who think of him, even if only from time to time, keep him alive in our memories.
I hope to add your stories and anecdotes here as they arrive so that everyone can enjoy them:
From Sam:I found this pixel art sprite that Henry made in 2010 and thought that I could adapt it so it represented Henry in perpetual motion.
From John:I want to share a memory I had with Henry. This was several years ago, during the summer of my Sophomore year in high school. I had met Henry in our number theory summer course at Brown. Right from the beginning I knew Henry was a special person. From the way he spoke and what he spoke about, it was clear that Henry was enlightened with a deep understanding of the intrinsic universe that many, including myself, will never experience.There was a clarity he had in mathematics that I had never seen before. I remember whenever we would get stuck on a math problem or a proof, he would draw a picture of a house, and by the time he finished the drawing, it seemed that he always came up with a solution. I don’t know what he would think about while drawing these houses. Maybe it got his mind to think of different structures, an aspect of mathematics. Maybe while drawing, he was compartmentalizing his thoughts, into rooms, separated by graphite lines. Maybe he wasn’t thinking about math at all while he drew these quirky pencil drawings, and it was just something that helped him clear his mind.To this day, whenever I get stuck on a problem, I draw a picture of a house, and although I don’t always come up with a solution, It always helps me open my mind and it puts me at ease.Taking that class with Henry was one of my first experiences at Brown University. As I am about to graduate from Brown with an applied math degree, I can’t help but acknowledge the impact he has had on me, despite only crossing lives with him for a brief moment. There is no doubt in my mind that his life will continue to impact our world through the lives he has touched.
After speaking with the Dean of Student Affairs about it, we confirmed that it would be appropriate to release Henry’s fall grades to you. All of his professors had such wonderful things to say about him that I also wanted to forward on my correspondence with them to you. I hope there is some comfort for you and your family knowing that Henry was held in such esteem by his faculty:
- David O’Hallaron, the instructor for 15-213 Intro to Computer Systems, said: “My co-instructors and I would like to award Henry Armero with an A for 15-213, Fall 2012. Henry had a strong A going into the final, and perhaps this would give some small comfort to his family and friends.”
- Charles Rosemblum, instructor for 60-205 Modern Visual Culture, said: “This is indeed a terrible circumstance. Henry was an excellent student and had an A throughout the course. I can conscientiously give him an A final grade based on the work he completed while he was able to.”
- Ali Momeni, instructor for 60-439 Hybrid Instrument Building, said: “At the risk of being misconstrued as only empathetic, I’d like to give an A to Henry for his work for my course. He actually was doing the most diligent work in the entire class.”
- Irina Gheorghiciuc, instructor for 21-241 Matrices & Linear Transformations, said: “Henry was one of my best students, his grade is A. I tried to input it into FIO several times, but it would not take it. If there is a way to assign him a grade, I would love that very much. He was amazing. I hope his parents know what a wonderful student he was, exceptional really. So, to summarize, his grade for 21-241 Matrices and Linear Transformations is A. He even submitted his perfect last homework on Friday, December 7, sheer hours before he passed away. If his family would like his homework back, I would be happy to send it to them.”
- Guy Blelloch, instructor for 15-210 Parallel & Sequential Data Structures & Algorithms, said: “Henry was doing very well in our class (15-210). Last time we ran a course average, three or four weeks ago, he was 5th out of 94 students. He was certainly going to get an A, and a very strong A. We were very sad to hear the news. We are comfortable giving him an A for the course.”
From Klara:One day I was in Ms. Black’s calc class with Henry. He sat a few rows away from me but he came over when we were doing group work and asked to borrow my calculator. Later, when I took out my calculator to work on another problem, I saw that Henry had written me a program. It said:
HELLO KLARA, HOW ARE YOU TODAY?
and I could answer:
If I answered [A], the response was something like:
YAAAAAAYYYY! C: [End]
But if I answered [B] the response was:
SORRY, WRONG ANSWER, PLEASE TRY AGAIN.And then it would bring me back to the beginning:HELLO KLARA, HOW ARE YOU TODAY?
It reminds me of how Henry could brighten just about anyone’s day if they were in a bad mood.
From Chris:I was surprised when, following our campus visit to Carnegie Mellon, Henry announced that he was going to apply to their BXA (“double major”) program. To do a Bachelor of Computer Science and Art he had to apply to and be accepted by both Colleges, Fine Art and Computer Science. It seemed a tall order, but Henry rapidly pulled a portfolio together (some of which can be seen here: armeroart.blogspot.com) and applied.Fast forward 12 months to Family Visiting Weekend during his freshman year. Jennie and I found Henry thriving. He was enjoying the challenging work and was a minor celebrity on campus with a core group of friends on the second floor of Stever House. He was wearing a Winnie the Pooh beanie and had only shaved one side of his face (see photo above). One cheek was smooth and the other sprouted a straggly quasi beard.Dad: “Henry, why have you only shaved one side of your face?”Henry: “I am an artist now!”
From Daniel John:
I had always known that Henry was somewhat of a larger than life figure, and that he had touched a lot of people. But it meant a lot to see SO many in one room (at Henry’s Memorial), and to think of the legions of other people who just could not make it because their finals made it impossible just tells you how many people this man really did touch in his life.
Richard Alex Hofer told us a story about one day when Henry showed up at his dorm with two capes and said “CHOOSE ONE!” and they ran off to have adventures. Honestly, that made me think if one day my doorbell rang and I came downstairs to find Henry driving a car that was actually a giant lobster and he said “NO TIME TO EXPLAIN! GET IN THE LOBSTER!” I would get right in that lobster. If he showed up one day riding a camel, with another camel and said “Daniel John, my people need you, CHOOSE YOUR CAMEL” I would assume that his people needed me, and I’d pick the camel I wanted.
I think only people who knew Henry could possibly understand how much this doesn’t even do justice to his personality. If there was a straight, obvious path that we call normal, most people I know at CMU would be some sort of sine wave around that path, Henry zig zagged about all over the place, probably spun around a little, did a little Larmor Procession, and maybe heard about the path being there once or twice.
One day Henry and I were having lunch like normal when I started talking about the original Star Trek show. And I can’t do justice to the way he described what was cool about Star Trek: TOS, but basically it amounted to this fanciful adventure story that would all be done in an hour. So a lot of Star Trek stories involved them going to what’s called a “planet of hats”. Like a planet where the entire culture was based around one simple thing. And somehow today I thought of one of the best possible planets of hats to go on a fanciful adventure to. The Planet of Henrys. Just a planet where everyone is Henry. That planet would be a really awesome place to have a fanciful adventure. And the technology, architecture, artwork would all be amazing.
I’d like us all to go to that Planet of Henrys.
In fall 2012, I was a freshman at CMU and really struggling to adapt to the workload (which I now know was in large part due to un-diagnosed mental illness). One night I was having trouble getting myself to get any work done. I was talking to Henry about it, and he said that, if I finished my homework, he would draw a picture of me flying a kite. I eventually got to working and finished all of it, not just because of the picture but because I knew that my friend & the most brilliant person I knew believed in me.
A little while passed, and I forgot about the drawing. But one day Henry surprised me with a You Tube video which has since been posted here. Until now I had no idea if any other people had seen it.
I’ve since sought help with my mental illness, and though things are still a struggle, thinking about Henry believing in me often helps me keep going. Henry was a really incredible person and I don’t know if I’ll ever fully process his absence.