Just before Christmas, I received news that Chris Bell had died. Smart Access readers will know Chris from his contributions to this newsletter, especially his effort in pulling together the M-Files article (see "The M-Files: MVP Solutions to Your Biggest Problems") in the November 1997 issue. Many more people will know him from his many contributions to the Access newsgroups.
With Chris's death we've all lost the ability to benefit from his intelligence, insight, hard work, and -- most importantly -- his desire to share what he knew with others. Chris had recently joined our masthead as a contributing editor, and we considered ourselves very fortunate to have him there. I was looking forward to working with Chris more often. His passing has left a hole.
For many years, Ken Getz handled the "Access Answers" column, but the time came when he needed to move on. Chris Bell's name came up almost immediately as a possible replacement for Ken. Before I could get in touch with Chris, he contacted me to suggest a series of articles for Smart Access. We were able to talk Chris into contributing to the "Access Answers" column before we started on his other suggestions.
Chris did see the first of his ideas in print -- the M-Files article -- and we were just starting to work on his next proposal when he entered the hospital. I think it's typical of Chris that the most important project to him was the article that would allow the MVPs on the Access newsgroups a chance to get some recognition for their work.
Over the course of the next few months, we worked together and communicated frequently, but I never did get an opportunity to meet Chris. We were hoping to get together at some development conference, should he ever make it back to North America. Instead, I kept meeting people who did know Chris. Every one of those people told me what a great person Chris was, and how lucky we were at Smart Access to have him contributing to the newsletter. Chris had a lot of friends in the Access community.
For this month's issue, Andy Baron has put together a final "Access Answers" column from Chris by drawing on some of the questions that he responded to in the various Access forums. We've included it as this month's "Access Answers" column, as that was where Chris started with us.