A Tribute to our Friend and Colleague Dr. Salah Aidarous

Salah Aidarous

It is an honor and a privilege to be entrusted with writing the tribute on behalf of IEEE and so many friends and colleagues of Dr. Salah Aidarous who passed away on January 21, 2003 from liver cancer.

It is not enough to say that Salah will be greatly missed; his work, his talent, his knowledge, his very presence enriched the telecom industry immeasurably in countless ways. Above and beyond his internationally renowned work in the field, Salah played a key role in creating and maintaining a nurturing and creative environment for our research, technical and support staff. His leadership shaped and expanded research in SONET/SDH technology, Soft Switch, Intelligent Optical Switching, Digital Mobile Radio, and Electronic Commerce Transactions. His unique familiarity and technical expertise with the transport network, switch architecture, signaling network, and network elements made him an invaluable strategic leader, a coveted technical expert and an inspiring workplace role model. His loss will be sorely felt, not only for his knowledge and expertise, but because the IEEE community has lost a dear and much-loved friend.

I was privileged to join him in our most recent trip to the APNOMS 2002 conference in Jeju, South Korea as recently as September. It was at this time that I first realized that all was not well with Salah. And yet, he was actively participating in the planning of the next NOMS 2004 conference. His commitment, enthusiasm and passion were all fully on display.

With his departure, we are now left with some vivid and diverse memories reflecting a man: dedicated, knowledgeable, always ready to share his skills with others; of a loyal person who was both kind and thoughtful, and whose deeds were many but always silent; of a dear colleague whose infectious enthusiasm engulfed us all, even when we could not quite keep up with them; of a man who harbored no resentment; of a man who, as his life shortened dramatically, showed amazing courage while bravely facing his future. Those memories, dedicated to his family, friends and the profession he had dedicated his entire life to, will always warm our hearts and prove gentle solace for this loss.

Dr. Salah Aidarous received his B.Sc. from Ein-Shams University, Cairo, Egypt and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1976 from Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain, Belgium. He possessed a keen and insightful technical mind honed by the unique blend of his acclaimed academic background and extensive practical industry knowledge. He was an energetic member of IEEE and a fervent member of the Committee on Network Operations and Management (CNOM). He had organized and chaired many technical sessions and directed the CNOM as the Chair during the past two years. He served as senior technical editor for IEEE network and Internet Computing magazines, IEEE Press book series on “Telecommunications Network Management”, and Co-author of several books on Telecommunications Network Management. For him it was not merely a job, it was his passion.

Salah has been our North Star for decades, burning brightly and consistently, providing comfort and a sense of security in the midst of the storm of our ever-evolving world. We would eventually learn, much to our dismay, that his drive and hunger for the success of the worldwide telecom industry and the progression of the scientific knowledge in the field as a whole, had superseded his attention to his personal health and well-being. It reflects that he was an engineer to his very core.

Salah’s contribution to the world of telecom and his enduring legacy to this science will be measured, not by the number of his publications or citations, but rather by the number of individuals he influenced and stimulated. He strived on providing assistance to others and was keen on helping students from around the world start their ways in the communications industry. In his presentations, whether as a keynote speaker or as a panelist, he thrived not only to be informative but also to provoke thoughts. He peaked our interest and captured our imaginations. Salah had a thirst for knowledge and was always open to new solutions. He had a passion for communication with the widest public and for the dissemination of his scientific expertise to the next generation; he was always generous with his time and his considerable talents. He was a dedicated and knowledgeable Engineer, held in high esteem by a wide and international circle of his peers as attested by the overreaching response to his untimely departure.

I would like to thank you all for the overwhelming letters of love and affection that we have received on behalf of friends and colleagues from around the globe. This wonderful outpouring of empathy is a rich testament to the broad spectrum of lives that Salah touched.

Of all the circles within which he traveled, that encompassing his family was by far the most important. He was devoted to his wife, Amalia and two daughters, Yassmine and Nathalie, and to all the members of his extended family.

Salah knew he had achieved important things and had enviable balance in his life. He was at peace with himself and others. He felt fulfilled. He supported us in adversity and proved our champion against all odds. We will always remember him. We learned how much we loved him and we learned ways of expressing that love. He enriched our lives and we thank God for that.

Allow me to end with the following Poem:

by Mary Sullivan
It’s been awhile since you’ve been gone,
And families must carry on
As friends unite in asking why
Sometimes we have to say goodbye.
True friends are rare; when one departs
It leaves a mark upon our hearts
That’s vast and deep and tall and wide
And lasts beyond the tears we’ve cried.
Surrounding us with love, it seems,
The remnants of your living dreams
Are standing proud in tribute to
These treasured memories of you.
In all you did, in all you said,
You walked with us a step ahead,
Arriving first to pave the way.
Thank God, we’ll meet again someday!

On behalf of IEEE and all of Salah’s friends and colleagues with deepest Sympathy and gratitude,

Christian Rad