It started with his phone call twenty years ago. His health was delicate to say the least and he was desperately searching for a very rare pharmaceutical drug he needed to stay alive. An allergic reaction had caused a complete failure of his lungs and heart and he had barely survided that. He overestimated my connections and though I was not able to get him the stuff we stayed in touch after that.
He had worked as a designer for the German aircraft industry and his interest in German art nouveau design had started him assembling a huge collection of objects. Being the VERY meticulous guy he was he not only collected the objects, but also every bit of information he could get on makers, designers, companies, marks etc.. This resulted in another vast collection of trade catalogues, periodicals and other materials on the subject. Expending the scope of his interest led him to include objects from other European countries.
He freely shared his enthusiasm and knowledge (a streak not found in all collectors ...). He was one of the first to go through the vast WMF archives to find bits of information hitherto ignored and unrecorded and he was the first to share it if one just asked.
He was a guy of subtle (German) humor and a fine sense of irony, which rarely left him (though it happened). Those pics he sent via EMail of the delicate flowers just blossoming in his back yard in southern Europe while the weather in Berlin still had an almost Siberian quality... Those pieces of Spanish and Portugese bacon he sent so that the northern territories during winter also could profit from southern food.
It must have been his keen interest in people, collectors and collecting, foreign languages etc. that kept him going all those years. Though we exchanged quite a lot of - sometimes very personal - info over the years we never managed to actually meet in person, modern communication helping to bridge the geographical gap. And we always stuck to the respectful way of adressing each other as "Herr".
Herr Zurell, we miss You.