Obituary: Marilou Vandierendonck (1945-2023)

A feature of scientific societies like ESCoP is that presidents, secretaries, treasurers, editors and committee members come and go. Mandates are only for a few years. For these associations, it is good if one person stays on in the background as administrator to maintain continuity and give the association a memory. Marilou Vandierendonck has been this person for ESCoP for a long time. She was always there as the backbone of the association since the early 1990s until very recently. 

Many of us got to know Marilou as a member of a local conference organising committee and/or as an executive committee member. Then we saw her amazing management skills, when dealing with a bunch of academics who like to be involved in everything but so often lack practical know-how. Marilou organised the committee meetings, of which we have fond memories. She did all the administrative and organizational work, always in the background - never trying to draw attention to the valuable work she was doing. She was the perfect helping hand for the president, secretary and treasurer of our society. Marilou also provided crucial help in the organization of ESCoP conferences. She was the key connection between the local organising committee and ESCoP’s executive committee. She often helped find solutions to the problems that the local committee might encounter, and her presence on these occasions was greatly appreciated. The success of many of our conferences was largely due to Marilou's commitment and total dedication.

Marilou was highly appreciated by everyone she worked with. She could be tough, sure, and that is a good trait when business needs to be done, but she was always willing to listen and try to understand academics. She was always in a good mood, especially when the committee meeting ended and we all went to the restaurant Marilou had arranged for us. Those were wonderful times, almost entirely thanks to Marilou.

When it became clear in the early 2020s that she could no longer do the job to her standards, she did all she could to ensure a smooth transition so that the Society would remain in good shape. This too characterised her total dedication to ESCoP.

For the younger members of our association, who never had the opportunity to know Marilou, remember that she was a real pillar of ESCoP, as much and probably even more than the famous "gang of five" that founded ESCoP. Perhaps we should now speak of the "gang of six".

Jonathan Grainger, Marc Brysbaert, and Rob Hartsuiker

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