I am speaking today as a student of Le Cam, and on behalf of two other students, Shaw-Hwa Lo and Yannis Yatracos, who entered Berkeley the same year with me. Both cannot be here today and asked me to convey their gratitude towards our joint advisor, whom we addressed as "Monsieur" in those days.
We all felt very warm towards Monsieur and very fortunate to be his students, which provided us with the opportunity to have close contact with him. We benefited tremendously from his acute originality and insights, and his legendary broad knowledge (as put forth by Grace Yang and Rudy Beran in their obituary). Whatever questions we had, be they in his recognized area of expertise or not, he always seemed to have a profound understanding of the subject area and amazing insights. In fact, he was so far ahead of us that we often agonized over his explanations for a long time, until they finally clicked one day. Albert Lo, who came all the way from Hong Kong to join this event, would probably concur with me on this. Often I felt, that had I been smarter, Id have been able to get a lot more mileage out of Monsieurs words of wisdom.
In addition to science and knowledge, we learned a lot more from Lucien. He was one of the most generous, kind, compassionate and open-minded person I have encountered. I will now share a few anecdotes with you.
I first arrived at the Berkeley campus in a wheelchair, just two weeks after a major surgery resulting from an auto accident. Despite this episode, I was lucky to be assigned an office next to Lucien and enrolled in his signature asymptotics class, Stat 217. During the first lecture, he mentioned an object called "lattice," which I had never encountered before. At first, I thought that this probably wouldnt matter and I should still be able to stay in the class. However, this "lattice" kept on popping up for several days, and I began to feel uneasy. Although my office was next door to Luciens, I didnt feel comfortable to ask him about it, as I didnt know him well enough to expose my ignorance.
So, instead, I turned to some of my classmates. It turned out that they didnt know much better either. It thus became clear that someone ought to get clarification from Monsieur. After some intense deliberation, it was clear to everyone but me that the most fitting person for this task would be the frail woman next door - who happened to be in the wheelchair. So, under peer pressure, but still unwilling to reveal my ignorance, I went to his office and asked " Professor Le Cam, I know what a sigma -field is, a field, a group and even a ring, but - exactly what is a lattice?" He nearly chuckled, but quickly regained himself and replied in his usual gentle tone, "Well, a lattice is slightly different. It is .".
He explained patiently as he always had, and the mission was completed satisfactorily. There really was no need for all that stress and disguise from me, as we learned fairly quickly, and fully exploited thereafter, his generosity and open-door policy. There would be always a stream of students walking in and out of his office at any given time without appointments. It was only years later after I started my own teaching career that I realized how rude and inconsiderate I had been. But I wasnt the only one- we all exploited Luciens kindness and generosity. We also knew that he wouldnt be offended by any question or comment, however silly or small. He also had a sharp sense of humor. At the time when he was working on his asymptotics book with Grace, I teased him in a phone conversation: "Does this mean that this book will actually be readable and I will finally learn your asymptotics now that you have help from Grace?" He laughed out loud. Such is the gentlemanly and humane side of Lucien.
I will close with a few intriguing statistics. As I mentioned earlier, Lucien was the thesis advisor of three students entering Berkeley the same year, Shaw-Hwa, Yannis and myself. He was also the thesis advisor of three students from my undergraduate class at National Taiwan University. The two others are Shaw-Hwa (which has been mentioned already) and Yu-Lin Chang, whose whole family of five is here today. This is quite unusual the same thesis advisor for three B.S. students from the same class of a foreign country! Another interesting fact is that Lucien had profound influence or was the factual or actual advisor for three faculty members at UC Davis. His first student (a factual student as we know), Julius Blum, was the first head of the Intercollege Division of Statistics at UC Davis. Julius title then was Associate Dean of Statistics. After Julius unexpected death in 1981 and a few Interim Associate Deans during the search for his successor, George Roussas was appointed in 1985, and served for fourteen years as Associate Dean. George, who cut his family vacation short so as to attend this occasion today, was a Ph.D. student of David Blackwell, but his work on contiguity was inspired and greatly influenced by Lucien. By the way, the former Division of Statistics is now officially the "Department of Statistics" and I have been "demoted" to a Chair.
I thank you for bearing with these anecdotes from my personal perspective. To Louise and the children: we were very fortunate to share Lucien with you. He was indeed like a father to us, and as you can see, he obviously meant a lot to us!