Goodbye, Vlad

By Johna Till Johnson

I’m terribly sorry to have to report that my best friend, paddle partner, husband, and love, Vladimir Brezina, died  Tuesday, December 13, at 7:20 PM, after surviving for 2.5 years with cancer.

My heart breaks, and a light has gone out in the world. But I have vowed to embody Vlad’s spirit of generosity, love of adventure and exploration, and appreciation of beauty in all forms. It will never be the same without him, but what he gave to the world will live on.

I plan to post a proper obituary in the days (maybe weeks) to come. And I plan to continue WindAgainstCurrent, but alas the quality of the photography will never be the same, as I don’t have Vlad’s brilliant eye and editing patience.


Vladimir Brezina 6/1/58-12/13/16

140 responses to “Goodbye, Vlad

  1. I am so sorry to hear this news many months after his death. I was in NYC last week and was thinking of contacting him to get together; searching the web for contact info, I came across this post. Clearly, I was too late….

    I took the Neurobiology summer course at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA with Vlad back in 1985, and I would run into him at scientific meetings where his quiet, wry sense of humor and his acute observations would always shine in comparison to the others who were oh, so serious. We’d met once or twice for a beer in NYC when I happened to be in town, but my most memorable time with Vlad was back in the summer of 2001 when we were both attending the Neuroethology Congress in Bonn. It was the final afternoon of the meeting, I think, and there was a plenary talk by a senior scientist on some grand topic like “Neuroethology of Human Behavior.” Vlad and I looked at the topic and at eachother and promptly went down to the banks of the Rhine to a Bierstube where there were outside seating, plentiful Koelsch beer, and wurst and schnitzel. We spent a wonderful late afternoon and evening in that midsummer northern European sun, watching the barges going up and down the river, drinking beer, eating, and chatting about nothing in particular. About two hours later, some friends came down to the river after the interminable talk, passing by our table. We asked “How was the talk?” to which the reply was uniformly “Terrible!” at which we “high-fived” each other and ordered another round of beers.

    I’m so glad that I knew Vlad, but I’m also sad that I didn’t know him better. The world is a better place for his having been here, but I also share in your deep and abiding loss. My deepest condolences, Johna.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Johna Till Johnson

    Okay, Harry, you accomplished the impossible: On a day when I’m feeling sad and desolate, you made me laugh! What a lovely story.

    “Vlad and I looked at each other and promptly went down to the banks of the Rhine…” Yes, that was so very Vlad! I am so glad you have such a lovely memory (of the sun, and barges, and Koelsch beer as well as of Vlad!) and thank you for sharing it!

    He had a long history of skipping talks he thought would be boring or valueless, and replacing them with adventures: Skiing, hiking, kayaking… or just drinking beer in the sunshine and talking about nothing and everything.

    Thank you for posting. Let me know when you’re in NYC the next time!


  3. Johna, I dipped back into WordPress this morning and just saw this post and your beautiful obituary and other posts since. Your love and courage shine through. My sincere sympathy.


  4. I have just read your message Johna, I follow Vladimir’s post and photos, his photos used to bring alive the places to me. Please accept our condolences. I am glad you are continuing his blog. With regards.

    Liked by 1 person

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