Back when our country still believed the coronavirus was a “new hoax,” I emptied my Brooklyn apartment into an even smaller storage space and hit the road for simpler life back home in the Great Lakes State.

Unsure when (if ever) I would return to the city, I grabbed the essentials: a couple shirts, pants, shoes for walking a trade show floor, a few worn copies of POB and a gray, lime and red striped necktie imprinted with the name JAVAD.

Although I never met Javad Ashjaee, Ph.D., you didn’t need to meet him to know him. A brash, bold leader who didn’t take “no” easily and took “yes” just as hard, his was the sharpened temperament of a man discriminately and habitually treated like an outsider. The fact that Javad had to defend his place at all as a pioneer in the geospatial community proved as much.

Yet he never let detractors dull the brilliance of vision or take away from his hard-won accomplishments. And that was only a sliver of the man the survey and geospatial community got to see.

Born in Iran in 1949, a naturalized U.S. citizen in ’89, the history of Javad’s ascent as a formidable force in GNSS technology has since become legend — the kind of story only he can fully do justice. But when he wasn’t Javad of JAVAD GNSS, he was a husband, a father, a brother and beloved uncle of great consequence, who wanted more than anything to follow his dreams and provide for his family.

If you’re a surveyor who can relate to any of the above, you didn’t need to meet him. You knew him because he was just like you.

“At the end of life, what matters is not what we bought but what we built, not what we got but what we shared, not our competency but our character, and not our success but our significance,” reads a statement released by Javad’s family after he passed away due to complications from the coronavirus this summer. “(Javad’s) most profound skill was not in his technology: it was his ability to bring people together rather than to draw lines between them.” This month’s issue and cover draws its inspiration from that multifaceted ability, with hopes that our readers will embrace the lines that unite us more than what divides us.