Ill health and age have finally caught up with you, even though you appeared ineradicable, persistent, always active, defending with passion and conviction both the CBTI(P) and FIT.
It is always very painful to mark the departure of someone you have worked side by side with for so many years, tireless in defending the interests of philologists (for you were a true philologist!), translators and interpreters.
The young people of today did not necessarily know you, and so are not able to appreciate the true extent and depth of all that you did for our professions! This is in a way the price one has to pay for modernity and the existence of generations that follow one another.
What few are aware of is the degree to which you contributed to numerous publications like working documents on ethnic art and many others; you prepared numerous reviews or analyses of many, many works. One only has to search for your name on the John Benjamins Publishing Company website to realise just how curious you were about everything.
I sometimes wonder whether you had any time at all left for your own leisure! You were acquainted with or knew well many of the top figures in our professions. Some were largely unaware of who they were dealing with.
As vice-president of the CBTI you represented our association all over the world and through your role as secretary general of FIT – a position you held for a very long time – you raised the profile of Belgium and the representatives of Belgium across the globe. The tribute paid to Belgium and its representatives by the FIT President Henry Liu on the occasion of the CBTI’s 60th anniversary celebrated in Brussels in 2015 would not have been possible without your enormous contribution to the field of language. Thank you, on behalf of us all!
It is impossible to keep a tally of all the articles and other publications that you edited! You touched on all subjects relating to language … folklore, dictionaries, bibliographies and so on.
We have known one another a long time, as I became FIT treasurer while you were secretary general. We worked together for many years within the CBTI, as my term as president lasted 18 years. You were an expert on the founding documents of both organisations and it was not unusual for the FIT President to appeal to your knowledge of the texts, just as I did during the general meetings of the CBTI.
You saw many a president of national associations and of FIT pass. You were no great lover of the internet, preferring the fax. What I see today is that most websites – in general, and in particular those devoted to translators organisations – tend to forget the past and mention only the bare minimum. Now, your work and mine was done when the internet was only just starting up and the modern generations seem to be forgetting it.
Yet the internet does mean that not everything has to be forgotten, if one is just a little bit curious.
Both FIT and the CBTI bear your indelible imprint. I am still waiting to find anyone else prepared to do as much over as long a period as you in such a variety of disciplines.
René, thank you for your life’s work and for all that you brought to our professions. It is time to rest.
Adieu, tireless friend and colleague!
Honorary President of CBTI
translated by Marion Boers, Honorary Advisor