I first met Anna twenty years ago, when she invited me, not far along in my career, to speak to the word order group in a conference of the European Typology (Eurotyp) project. I of course knew about Anna because of her 1984 passives book, an excellent survey of passive constructions and their analysis that was "merely" her MA thesis. Anna's rise had been rapid: though young (only a year older than me), she led the Eurotyp word order group - a reflection not only of her intellectual stature, but also her tremendous administrative skills.
We immediately became good friends, and shortly afterwards, we found ourselves living and working not far from each other: Anna a professor at Lancaster, I a lecturer at Manchester. We would be sort-of neighbors for twelve years, and undoubted friends forever. We shared our successes, our setbacks, and our petty frustrations in academic and personal life. She always welcomed me to her home at The Grove, and we had many enjoyable conversations there, over wine and Anna's excellently prepared meals. I last saw her there in July 2010; she and Dik planned to attend a conference in Lyon I went to this past May, but they fell ill and were unable to go.
Anna's primary research area was in typology, albeit broadly, exploring many different areas of grammar from a crosslinguistic perspective. Her publications, from her 1984 passives book through her Cambridge red series book on "Person", will stand as major achievements, along with the many edited volumes she produced, the last of which appeared shortly after her death. A theme of her crosslinguistic research that was important to me was her documentation of the complexity and diversity of languages - showing that simple typological generalizations would not work. This approach to typology came into its own with the advent of electronic databases and statistical methods that allowed us to find typological universals without sacrificing typological diversity. Anna was as meticulous in her scholarship as she was in her dress, for which she was also famous. Yet she was always modest about her achievements.
What constantly amazed me about Anna was her enormous energy and hard work. Besides her achievements in scholarship, Anna somehow found the time to do the many onerous administrative duties that exist in UK universities, not least as Head of a very large Department. Anna and I both served on the editorial board of the Oxford Studies in Typology and Linguistic Theory book series. Anna was always the first to read the lengthy manuscripts that were submitted, and provide detailed and thoughtful comments on them. I don't know how she found the time. The series owes very much to her editorial skills. On top of all that, she found the time to go walking almost every weekend, entertain her friends, and travel extensively around the world, for work or for pleasure or for both.
In addition to being a major scholar in typology, and a close friend, Anna also supported me professionally in many ways: she was the external professor on the committee for my promotion to a personal Chair at Manchester; she wrote a jacket blurb for "Radical Construction Grammar"; she wrote endless letters of reference for positions in the US that I applied to, until I finally returned in 2006. I turned to her for many things. Her support meant a tremendous amount to me, and I will always be grateful to her.
When I first read the email from Anna's colleague Willem Hollmann, I was stunned. Although my eyes could read the words, my mind simply could not accept that they were true. I was in such shock I could not even cry at first. For the next few days, still in shock, I could only imagine, over and over again, that horrible moment, and what Dik must have gone through and is still going through. Dik, our hearts are broken for you as much as for Anna!
The only words that could come to my mind were those to a song by the Rev. Gary Davis: "Death don't/Have no mercy/In this land..."
Anna had charm; Anna had style. She also had warmth, generosity, and understanding. Now we must find our way without her. We must follow in her lovely footsteps: pursue our scholarship, support our colleagues, mentor our students, spend time with our friends. It is the best thing we can do to honor her.