I’m sure many people will say things like this, but nonetheless, here goes:
Working with Noam was the deepest intellectual experience I have had. As I remember saying to someone at the time, you never have to explain anything to him, because he is always there before you are and has a deeper take on whatever it is you bring to him. You walk into a meeting confused and grabbing at an idea with your fingernails, and you come out clarified, with the idea at least grasped in your palm on its way to wherever it might go.
And then there are the classes and public talks, full of “aha” surprises that make you laugh and say, “how true and how obvious: why didn’t I think of that, and why hasn’t anybody else?”
Noam, whatever those who do not know him might believe, is possessed of a deep and principled humility. It is always about the phenomena and the ideas, never about him. He speaks with force and courage, but he never struts and he never pulls rank. I wish there were more people, in this field and elsewhere, about whom one could say that. It is a rare property indeed.
I think I have never known anyone with greater gifts or more generosity in sharing them, and I probably never will.