With a great deal of sadness, I just got to learn via Twitter about the passing of Maxine Clarke, the Publishing Executive Editor at Nature, after a prolonged battle with cancer. My friend and erstwhile Nature Network blog colleague, Dr. Steffi Suhr, has written a heartfelt tribute to Maxine, and I can’t but feel sure that there are many who share her sentiments – including me. I started interacting with Maxine right from the time when I started commenting at various Nature Network fora, way back in 2008. As the-then moderator of the Nature Opinion forum, she was the indefatigable initiator of topics of great pertinence, which invariably attracted a lot of discussions (many of which I am proud to have participated in).
In another touching tribute, another erstwhile Nature Network blog colleague, Dr. Eva Amsen, has written, “In 2006, when almost nobody read my blog, Maxine did.” This is true in more ways than one, and for more individuals than Eva. When I started blogging at the Nature Network in 2010 and commenting in my colleagues’ blogs, Maxine seemed to be everywhere, and she would always leave in-depth and constructive comments (even when, on a rare occasion, I crossed swords with her!). As the moderator of the Nature Opinion forum, she had once caught an embarrassing gaffe of mine (I had rushed to leave a comment in a completely wrong forum) and directed me to the right one. Once when I had asked her a copyright-related question related to my blog, she was kind enough to patiently explain certain pertinent facts about copyright matters – even if she was not a part of the Nature Network Management team – and direct me to the ever helpful Ms. Lou Woodley, who served as a Community Manager for the Nature Network at that time. In many ways, small and big, Maxine Clarke had touched the lives of those she worked with, both online and off. As the official Nature Obit for Maxine puts it:
She never ceased to care and advocate for the working lives of those whom she managed. But, as I know from unsolicited compliments from authors over the years, she was highly valued outside the office too… As a senior colleague put it: “Maxine was Nature through and through.”
And that is the truth of it. Rest in peace, Maxine; my respects to you, and my thoughts are with your family, friends and colleagues, who mourn your loss.