A Tribute to Gerd H. Hövelmann
on Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Members of the PA Board were shocked and saddened by the news that Gerd Hoevelmann has died following a long illness. Gerd was a fast friend of parapsychology, contributing very many scholarly articles over a long career that were supportive of the field while gently correcting conceptual or practical confusions. His role as a ‘critical friend’ was particularly evident in his involvement on the PA Board, where his quiet voice would command attention. Gerd was not one to speak for the sake of speaking, and what he had to say was always valuable. We will miss him. We reproduce below with kind permission from the Editor of MIndfield: The Bulletin of the Parapsychological Association, a fuller tribute from fellow PA Board Member Roger Nelson (in press)…
We have lost a remarkable man. Gerd Hövelmann was our friend, our colleague, our brother in arms in the search for understanding in the most interesting and challenging of intellectual domains. On personal and professional levels all of us who knew Gerd felt the same admiration for his erudition as a scholar and his brilliance as a communicator. More important as an explanation for our feeling of extraordinary loss are the human qualities of a true gentleman, who was confident and competent in everything he did, but always unassuming, a warm and gentle human being.
Gerd made his living as a businessman heading Hövelmann Communication in Marburg, Germany, where his clarity of expression was key to the success of his client interactions. In his academic presentations the same talents were evident, and many of us have been beneficiaries of Gerd's superb editorial skills – always soft-spoken and always on the mark. His scholarly contributions began in his early 20s and showed immediately his ability to see a topic through others' eyes. In a 1980 article for Hans Bender's Zeitschrift für Parapsychologie und Grenzgebiete der Psychologie, Gerd's thoughtful, high-level perspective was already evident as he wrote about “Cooperation and competition in scientific writing on parapsychology.” He was prolific, and over the years kept a major focus on the true meaning of science, publishing in journals spanning the spectrum of research and skepticism in Europe and the US. One of his most recent articles, meditating on a certain class of skeptics, was co-authored with Eberhard Bauer and Walter von Lucadou. It has the charming title, “Scheinriesen,” which I would translate as “Make-believe giants.” He was the long-time editor of the Zeitschrift für Anomalistik (Journal for the Science of Anomalies) which was, like everything Gerd touched, a model for civil discourse on the philosophy and the material of science at the edges of what we know.
Each of us in Gerd's circle of friends will recall with unusual clarity time spent with him and, if we were lucky, also with Friederike. He possessed the classic magnetic character which draws people and creates deep friendships. I have delightful memories of sitting together in a Paris café watching people go about their business while we enjoyed ideas of some consequence to our chosen field – with a nice glass of wine. In Durham, Lefty and I went with Friederike and Gerd to a nature park which had a special insect house where we could enjoy the often surprising art created by nature. Outside was a sculptural butterfly bench where Gerd paused briefly to rest. But the setting inspired him and he turned the moment into a quietly theatrical display.
Gerd was a beautiful and charming man with many extraordinary qualities. Intelligent and dedicated as a scholar, warm and loving to his family and friends. Gerd kept his attention focused on his work and the people he loved. His personal courage was on full display over the several years of his battle to keep living a full life. It was a blessing and an honor to know him. I hope he can somehow feel that we who miss his slightly mischievous smile will never forget his presence in our lives.