In Memoriam: Guus Declerck (1933-2020)
With great sadness we learned that Guus Declerck passed away on 10 April 2020 in the arms of his wife Lieve. Guus was 86 years old, but really someone you would never want to let go.
As a neurologist and clinical neurophysiologist, Guus was the first Dutch sleep medicine specialist, but none of these qualifications actually does him justice. Even before the word was invented, he was multidisciplinary in heart and soul. While founding a center for sleep and wake disorders (CSW), he managed to convince health insurance companies that insomnia needed attention and reimbursement just as much as sleep disorders such as narcolepsy and sleep apnea. He convinced them that it was irrelevant whether the diagnosis and treatment belonged to psychology, neurology or pulmonology. Above all, he was concerned about the suffering of the person behind the patient with a sleep disorder. He listened to patients and showed commitment. In 1999, at the farewell symposium in honour of his retirement, 'the big little man' was not only knighted in the order of the Dutch Lion, but was also thanked by an unprecedentedly large number of ex-patients present.
Guus was an amiable and modest man. Status did not play a role. But meanwhile, with his sweet smile, and without any ego getting in the way, he was the pioneer and founder of sleep care in the Netherlands and contributed importantly to the multidisciplinarity of sleep care in Belgium.
Anyone who has known Guus knows that his significance for sleep research and treatment of sleep disorders will echo far beyond today. With his sincere appreciation and unconditional faith in many young researchers and clinicians, Guus was a silent mentor for a whole new generation. He gave them the essential self-confidence and perseverance not to give up in the face of adversity. They wouldn't have dared, and wouldn't have come this far, if it weren't for Guus 's inexhaustible kindness, enthusiasm and respect. He lives on in the treatment and research of today and tomorrow.
We will miss our dedicated, inspiring and always interested Guus and wish his loved ones a lot of strength with the loss.
Ingrid Verbeek, Gert Jan Lammers, Dirk Pevernagie and Eus van Someren