In Memory of Max Jakob

The Plone community has lost one of its quiet but important voices. We mourn the loss of Max Jakob.

Every community has its silent heroes, people who contribute a lot to the community and put their heart and soul into it. In many open source projects, only the amount of code a person produces is what counts, but in the Plone community it is the person and each of their contributions that matters, be it enthusiasm, community work or the ability to motivate. Yesterday, the Plone community lost one of its silent heroes: Max Jakob.

Max was an unassuming yet integral part of the Plone community. After his first career, as a control systems electrical engineer in steel mills in remote parts of the world, he became an administrator at the Institute of Computer Science at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich in the 1990s, turning to web technologies. Around 2000, he heard about Zope for the first time and co-founded the local Python and Zope User Group, which he hosted beginning in 2003. In the years that followed, he worked extensively with Zope and then Plone, using them for a wide variety of applications. He was the driving force behind the Munich and emerging German Plone and Python community.

Even though Max never directly made large code contributions to Plone or Zope, without him, Plone would not be what it is today. He created and fostered a vital and very active Plone community in Munich, extending to all the German-speaking countries. Many members of the Plone community were initially attracted to and eventually became integral to the community thanks to Max and the example he set. Two such members are former Plone Foundation board members Philip Bauer and Alexander Loechel, who were instrumental in bringing Plone to Python 3. Max was the rock without whom the Deutsche Zope User Group (DZUG) conferences in Munich, the PloneKonf 2012, and the Plone Tagung 2019 would not have been possible. He hosted many sprints and all of the World Plone Day events in Munich. Through his commitment and support, Max made possible the Munich Zope/Plone, Python and PyLadies groups. He was also a founding member and longtime board member of the German Python Software Association.

His application for Plone Foundation membership more than reflected his understatement. In it, he wrote that he would not have wanted to step into the limelight except that his friends had insisted he apply simply so there would be an official list of his contributions to Plone.

Max was a role model for the Plone spirit. He built a community for Plone and a better world led with trust, empathy and hope.

Max attended every Plone conference since 2007, in Naples. Plone community members from around the world have had the pleasure of meeting him at conferences, the Plone Open Gardens in Sorrento, or one of our many sprints. All of us who had the privilege of getting to know Max will carry him in our memory: a random meeting at a gas station in Brasilia, where Max, Alan Runyan (co-founder of Plone), and Alexander Loechel stayed chatting for hours; walking through the cobbled streets of Ferrara trying to talk Max into hosting a conference...and being surprised by a quiet smile and a “Yes”.

Max Jakob passed away on December 11, 2020. He fought an unwinnable fight against cancer and lost it during one of his favorite events, the Plone Conference 2020. The Plone community has lost a notable and beloved Plone ambassador and Foundation member. He will be cherished and honored by the community. May his spirit live on.

We raise a glass of his beloved IPA to wish him a good farewell. Rest In Peace, Max!

The Plone Foundation Board of Directors thanks him for his many services on behalf of the community and expresses its deepest condolences to his widow and family.