Captain Amir

I don’t know whether this goes in “Brown” or “Stories.” In any case, this is just one example of how my time at Brown was made even more memorable by knowing Amir.

I met Amir early on at Brown (we being CS majors), but it wasn’t until our junior year that we became friends. We were both graphics geeks and I had the privilege of working with Amir on our final project for CS-224, one of those classes that makes geeks feel like blood brothers when they’re through. When our junior year ended, I was happy to hear that Amir had found a sublet for the summer right next door to my apartment on Governor St. There was a certain young woman that he was trying to impress so one day, he invited her and me (as wingman) to India Point to show off his sailing skills. He had been taking a sailing class and was now ready to brave the waters unsupervised. So the three of us hop in this little sailboat and Amir immediately starts ordering us around and telling us about the different ropes and doodads. After a few false starts, we’re off. Amir is pulling ropes, maneuvering the rudder. Then he says, “Hmm, this rope is tangled around the rudder. I’m gonna detach the rudder and try to fix it.” It wasn’t long before we found out that when you detach a rudder in open water, it’s nearly impossible to get it attached again. So Amir, looking slightly flustered now, says, “No worries, let’s just take down our sail. That’s the signal that we need help.” So we take down the sail, but there’s no sign that the boathouse employees are moving. The whole time, the boat is going wherever it wishes and we’re getting closer and closer to some pilings until !BANG! we crash right into them. We see the boathouse employees jump off their chairs and onto their waverunners. When they reached us, they looked totally pissed, but Amir just stood their calmly saying, “Didn’t you see me take down my sail?” Well, needless to say, that was the last time I stepped on a boat with Amir.

Amir, I can’t kick myself enough for saying, “Reunion’s coming up, I really need to get in touch with Amir.” You are sorely missed.

Amir is still bringing us together

We just had our 5 year college reunion for the class of ’99 at Brown over Memorial Day weekend. Throughout the weekend we shared stories about Amir and even now, Amir has helped bring our friends together. Our wishes are with his friends and family.

From a stranger

I barely knew Amir. I might have taken some computer science classes with him, we might have even worked on projects and homeworks together. I don’t remember. All I know is that I remember him and that the news of his passing hurt me.
I can see how wonderful a person and friend he was to all of you who knew him well. What I wanted to share with you is that even for those of us who had only fleeting interactions with him, he was, and will always be, memorable.

Amir Lopatin Principles for Living

Hello. I am Rebecca Witonsky, one of Amir’s friends from Brown. I would like to share my version of the Amir Lopatin Principles for Living:

1. Live and laugh each day.
2. Challenge your mind and intellect to the fullest extent.
3. Find a profession that meets the needs of your mind and soul. Work hard.
4. Study computers, especially if you’re a girl.
5. Don’t conform to authority, especially Orthodox Judaism. Think for yourself.
6. Support Medinat Yisrael and world Jewry. Be a mensch.
7. Care for the poor. Do community service. Change the world.
8. Protect the environment. Recycle.
9. Reach out to the suffering souls around you and offer them friendship and emotional support.
10. Play hard and have fun.

my first friend at Brown

My condolences go to Uri, Shoshana, and Mrs. Lopatin on your recent losses. He spoke very highly of you all, and thought about you often.

I met Amir my first day of freshman orientation at Brown and we immediately became friends. I confided in Amir only things he and my [now] husband know; I knew my secrets were safe with him. He had such quirky commentaries on life. I loved how brutally honest he was about everything. And I admired how he never took anything in life for granted.

Since I am floundering for words, I will keep it short. Amir was so good telling stories and I can picture him now joking “What crappy stories you are telling… A writer you are not.” It is hard to believe we even had a conversation about this at one point (I wish I could remember the little details better so I could comply with his thoughts regarding the topic).

Amir and I have been in and out of touch over the years. Since the last we talked about was looking forward to when he was coming to Washington DC and would be able to make some time to visit, I say so long, not goodbye.

So long Amir,

I’m So Sorry

I was very shocked to learn of this sad news just before the Passover Sedar. Amir was one of my first friends at Brown. I remember girls chasing him around at the freshman Hillel retreat. We had the same Freshman Advisor, Prof. Jacobson and enjoyed reading Jewish fiction together, taking walks and having great talks. While we were only close for a brief period of time in college, I was always so delighted to see him around campus and particularly at Hillel. I always knew I had a friend there, especially on those lonely Jewish Holidays when you wanted to be home. I would no doubt be greeted with a witty remark and a twinkling eye. And would leave the encounter with a new revelation on something of import, as well as a laugh. To a great young man who touched many; you will be missed.

Amir, you will be missed

I have yet to see it mentioned, but Amir was a member of the Zeta Delta Xi fraternity while at Brown. If I am the first Zete to post here, I’m certain I won’t be the last.
My name is Ian Dembsky; Brown U. class of ’99. I met Amir through computer science my sophmore year at school. We worked together on various projects in CS32. When I first met him, it was an easy decision to choose to work with him- He was a very friendly guy, very social, and very funny. We became fast friends. One night, after working late at the CIT, he invited me back to Zete, where he currently resided. We played pool for awhile, and he introduced me to the other brothers of the house. I enjoyed myself so much that I joined next year, and I believe my fraternity experience has been among the best things to happen to me in my life. In fact, I met my wife at the house. Among other things, I’m always thankful to Amir for bringing me to Zete that night.
As time went on, however, it was clear that while Amir lived in Zete, his heart was not truly into it, and he moved on to other parts of the campus. We would still get together for pool now and then, and share a good laugh and a beer. We kind of fell out of touch as our time at Brown went on, but I’ll never forget the impact he had on my life, or our friendship.
My thoughts go out to those close to him. Amir, I miss you buddy.

A Mensch

I have many fond memories of Amir, laughing, singing and enjoying life, at Brown Hillel. In particular I remember his dedication to working in soup kitchens in NY during winter break and how he would sit down and share a funny remark and a smile, making everyone around him feel that for just one moment the world was kind and fair and magical. He was so full of energy and never allowed the apathetic silence of the majority prevent him from expressing himself. In this time of chaos, in this world of inequality, in this time of loss, we must remember Amir and what he lived for. Let us honor his memory by breaking the bonds of silence and speaking out for what is just in a too often confusing and heartless world. His love of living should be an inspiration to us all.

I miss you Amir

I remember your laughing eyes, your wide smile, and your constant jokes. You were a kind, gentle yeshiva bochur who knew how to light up my day with a laugh or a joke. Just your presence and your sense of humor calmed me down. I used to eat with you at the Ratty at Brown for two years, and I always enjoyed being with you and sharing your friendship. You used to live in the Sun Lab for hours or days in CS-15 and then come out to tell jokes to me at the Ratty. You told ME to be a programmer. I can still picture you with your blue eyes, black kippa, black hair, jeans, and sandels.

I still can’t believe that you are dead. Your special neshama lives on and continues to inspire me in coping with your death and moving on with my life.

You had so much to contribute to the world, from teaching inner city kids how to sail and live, to master recycling, to religious Zionism, and so many other acts of kindness. It’s a terrible tragedy that you didn’t have the chance to pursue your dreams of being a professor of computers and education and make the world a better place.