Thomas Borcherding: It is impossible for me to conceive of a youngster as vital and full of himself and the world as Jos Claerbout has been taken from us so early, and by wholly natural causes. I am not a believing man so I will not offer any sort of religious pieties about divine meanings. I do know, based on some losses I've realized over a lifetime, that the bumper sticker "shit happens" is empirically correct and needs no ontological foundations.
I recall his great interest in how social norms work, how important they are for a functioning society, the role of evolutionary forces in social and biologic development, etc. pretty speculative, long-hair stuff. i loaned him books which he returned, and had read (fast too).
You and your dear wife are suffering the loss of losses that thank goodness I have never known. The death of a child, I can imagine, and you are not the first I've witnessed who has borne this burden, has just got to be the keenest suffering. They are meant to bury us, and then wipe their tears quickly away, and worry instead about making the mortgage, paying for our grandchildren's braces and tuition, and keeping their marriages working. If we did not love them so much -- because of affinity of genes and from the closeness of parenting -- the human race could not have walked out of the Olduvai Gorge to the point where we spend a decade of work just getting two kids through a first class school.
Though it is cheap consolation, 25 years of having Jos was a gift of rare value, and I am so pleased I had a little to do with his development into a thinking, caring, good humored young man. He would have been a wonderful husband and father and an ornament to his world about himself in two more decades. Though that was not to be, like Housman's poem about a young and gifted athlete's death, we are left with only memories of triumph and joy in Jos's short life and few if any defeats. I will cherish those good memories and only wish I had known him even longer and better.
Mike Kuehlwein: I was his economics professor in the spring of 1997. He actually found my course pretty challenging, but he was wonderful to have in class. He had great energy and curiosity and a terrific spirit. I still remember his smile.