Many of us just received the sudden news of the passing of Laci Kovács, who spent amost of his career at the Australian National University and retired around 2001. Laci was a student of Bernhard Neumann and supervised 18 graduate students.
My own personal interaction with Laci started in my honours year. I was lucky enough to have solved a problem in combinatorial group theory and I sent a draft of a paper to a dozen or so group theorists. Laci and I exchanged emails and I looked into the possibility of persuing a PhD with him, but what discouraged me from going to ANU was his plans to take long service leave, and possible retirement. Plus, I was also in contact with Cheryl Praeger who was effectively luring me to the west, and that’s what I eventually ended up doing. Laci ended up being one of my PhD examiners and took great interest in my work. He came to Perth at least a couple of times during my PhD and first postdoc, and we had long enjoyable discussions in my office, on politics (one of Laci’s pet subjects) and mathematics.
Laci was one of the integral members of the golden era of group theory at ANU, and he will be sorely missed by the GT-community.