After meeting a guy who founded the Israeli frisbee organization, I went to the website of the Brown ultimate team so I could send him the link. There I found the happiest picture of a friend - who died almost exactly three years ago. Seeing him in such a life-loving pose really caught me emotionally unprepared.
Although three years passed between when I last saw Mike and when he had the aneurysm that ultimately took his life, and three more years since then, I was instantly transported back to that first moment during freshman orientation when we first met on the frisbee field. I met a lot of people during that week, most of whom I probably never saw again, but Mike was clearly special. No matter how intense the course load of his five-year dual-degree program or the competition on the field, I always remember him with a huge grin on his face, unlike some of the other type-A personalities at Brown.
During that first orientation ultimate frisbee game, I remember there being some sort of absurd argument over who would get to play since the event was grossly oversubscribed and we overly eager freshman were already hoping to win a place on Brown's championship team by impressing the upperclassman who were running the event. Mike, calm as usual, decided to leave the event to the mob and go take advantage of everything else freshman orientation had to offer. Realizing that he was right I decided to join him, which made that moment one of the few indelible memory of precisely when a friendship began.
Three years later Mike and I took History and Theory of International Relations together, which was and remains my favorite Brown course. Mike was one of the few IR majors with a double major in engineering, and we used to talk about the applications of engineering thought paradigms to questions of international affairs. Although we took our own separate paths afterwards, I will never forget Mike for his social generosity and intellectual courage.
In Memoriam, Michael Franz, 1979-2007