I can’t claim to be a close personal friend of J.D., but for most of 2 decades I have known him as a fellow crusader against the abuse of mail and Usenet, a valuable colleague at MAPS, and genuinely good and kind man.
J.D. was one of the first people on Usenet to treat me like an adult human, as much as I may not have deserved it. It was some years later that I learned that he was significantly younger than me, making his combined level-headedness and technical skill all the more impressive. In a sense I owe him my marriage. He was one of the most active and positive participants in the “Usenet 2″ project, an experiment which succeeded long enough that my wife and I met through a Usenet 2 newsgroup.
More importantly, J.D. was a leader in the trenches of the war against net abuse for his whole career, and he has been working for the public good the whole time. There is still spam despite his work, and despite the work that the rest of us carry on doing, but because J.D. took on some tough battles and fought them as well as anyone could, we all are better off than we would be without him. Even those people who never knew he existed. Many of us who share that fight do it with varying degrees of misanthropic egotism, grumbling about spammers and clueless users and spamfighters who aren’t as brilliant or pure as ourselves, but J.D. always seemed to be doing it for everyone, mostly with a smile.