This weekend I traveled to Springfield, VA for the memorial service for Bob Marx, my father's cousin. Even though his family lived on the East coast, we saw him a handful of times during my youth. I always liked seeing cousin Bob. His easy going demeanor had an encouraging and supportive tone.
I knew that he had a long career at the Census Bureau, but until today I did not know the extent of his professional contribution. He was the architect of the Census Bureau's TIGER Format, which was used to improve the Census Bureau's process of taking the Decennial Census. In fact, Bob was the one who coined the acronym TIGER, which stands for Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing. If you are interested about TIGER, you can read more about it here on Wikipedia.
But this gathering was about much more than Bob's professional achievements. His 4 year old grandson got up in front of the audience to say how he wished that his grandfather would return to to play in his sandbox. I doubt at that moment there was a dry eye in the sanctuary. For me, I grieved that my father had lost his surrogate brother and childhood friend. The occasion also provided the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the Marx side of our family. I also got to meet many relatives that I had never met before.