Albert Stegmüller, former EMBL Finance Assistant, passed away on 19 December 2009, aged 78.
I first met Albert in 1975, when he had just begun establishing an accountancy system for EMBL – which, at the time, was still being established itself. All nine administration members were working from makeshift offices on the ground floor of DKFZ. EMBL’s status as an intergovernmental organisation, with its peculiarities and privileges, was a complete novelty to anyone on the outside - including banks. Albert had to convince them that EMBL was legal before he could even begin his regular day-to-day responsibilities!
Within a very short time, however, he’d succeeded in developing a system tailored to the needs of our organisation. It ran flawlessly and was always highly acclaimed by auditors.
Albert was an accountant as you would imagine and hope one to be: responsible and accurate, cordial but co-operative, reliable and willing to help.When we had moved into the newly erected EMBL building, he, on top of ‘his’ accounting, very successfully assumed responsibility for the entire EMBL and EMBO budget accountancy, as well as for tax reimbursement procedures with national finance authorities. But it was the more personal aspects of our collaboration that we in Administration appreciated and loved. Albert, friendly and helpful, was simply always there when you needed his advice or help. Once or twice a month during the initial years of EMBL, Finance and Personnel staff members would work weekends on the payroll accounting which, in those days, had to be done entirely by hand. On those weekends, Albert would invariably bring in the most delicious cakes, homemade by his wife Elfriede. For days ahead, we would be eagerly anticipating the next.
When he retired in 1996, Albert immediately accepted the post of treasurer of the Alumni Association, which he handed over to his former colleague Oscar Martin-Almendral in 2007. When the EMBL pensioners formed an association, Albert was elected onto the board as treasurer.
When I visited Albert a few weeks before his death, he expressed a wish to visit EMBL one last time and see the new ATC building. His youngest son and I promised him that he would; yet, only a few days later, Albert deteriorated. We were unable to grant him his wish. We have lost a cherished colleague and friend who rendered outstanding service to EMBL.
by Konrad Müller