ECHA In Memoriam

Professor Joan Freeman

It is with sadness that we report that on the 2nd of July Professor Joan Freeman passed away. In the 1980s, Joan Freeman was part of a small group of scholars from different European Countries who had a dream to develop more understanding in Europe of high ability throughout the lifespan. In 1987, they decided to create the European Council for High Ability (ECHA), with Joan as founding President. The primary aim of ECHA was to act as a European network. In the words of Joan “we aspired to become a dynamic multinational association.”

And so we did. Now, 36 years later, ECHA continues as the only European organization that strives for better education and psychological services for people with high abilities.

Joan was not only the founding president of our organization. She also was Editor-in-Chief of High Ability studies, and was always an active member, joining all the ECHA conferences, where her lectures were well visited and highly appreciated.

Apart from her work in and for ECHA, in her own country she counselled many gifted children and helped their parents. And Joan was a famous scholar: One of her many publications, a longitudinal study of gifted children growing up – Gifted lives – was famous around the world and showed people the frustrations and achievements of the participating children while they grew up and gave insight in the reasons why some had a lot of successes in life while others did not.

Joan Freeman has been honoured with a Fellowship and a Lifetime Achievement award from the British Psychological Society, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Mensa International.

We remember Joan as a very intelligent and involved person, with a great sense of humour. We will miss her sharp observations, her incredible stories and the great laughs we had together.

She will be remembered.

On behalf of ECHA, the executive committee,

Szilvia Fodor, Colm O’Reilly, Lianne Hoogeveen

Johanna Raffan MBE

Johanna Raffan MBE

We were shocked and saddened to hear that Johanna Raffan MBE has passed away. 

For many years, Johanna Raffan was part of the executive Committee of ECHA as a long serving secretary. Her knowledge and understanding of how organisations helped ECHA to be the professional entity it is now. Johanna cooperated with several ECHA Presidents, and supported them in an incredible way, keeping them informed about all the rules and regulations while encouraging progress for the organisation.

Apart from that, she was a warm, intelligent woman, with a good sense of humour.  When I first entered the General Committee, I admit that I felt was a little bit “afraid” of this woman, who had such great knowledge. It took only a short while to get to know her better; she supported me and introduced me in the work of the Secretary, when it was clear I would succeed her in this position. I remember pleasant times together, when committee meetings were still ‘on site’, and I learned some nice new (for me) English words, like the night we walked together in Münster, and she said the weather was so ‘balmy’; I love that expression and every time I use it, I think of Johanna, an amazing woman. May she rest in peace. 

On behalf of the ECHA Committee,

Lianne Hoogeveen

Franz Mönks

Dear ECHA Community, Dear Friends!
It is my sad duty to inform you that the Honorary President of ECHA, Franz Mönks has passed away on March 10th at 4.10 am in peace. He had suffered from a severe gland inflammation which has led to a serious condition in the last few months. He passed his 87th birthday in April 2019. He obtained his PhD in Bonn in 1966 about the future vision of adolescents. From 1967 to 1988 he was professor of developmental psychology at Radboud University in Nijmegen. Since 1988 he has held the first chair in Psychology and Pedagogy of the Gifted Child in Europe. From 1973 to 1978, he was also professor of developmental psychology at the University of Leuven (Belgium). He was visiting professor in Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Lima, Bandung, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Lexington (Kentucky), Debrecen (Hungary), Hefei and Shanghai (China). In 1997 he retired as an emeritus professor of Radboud University (Nijmegen, The Netherlands). He became the Honorary Professor and Doctor of many universities. In 1989 he became vice president of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children (WCGTC). In that position, he organized the ninth World Congress on giftedness in The Hague in 1991. In 1992, he resigned from that position to become President of the European Council for High Ability (ECHA). He was re-elected altogether three times for a four-year period. In this position he founded a globally recognized training in 1992: Specialist in Gifted Education. In 1994, the first five diplomas were awarded during the ECHA Congress in Nijmegen. There are now several thousand teachers who have successfully completed this training. Most of them in Hungary, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands, but also in Sweden, Chile and Peru. He was the recipient of the Kelemen László Award of the Hungarian Association of Psychology (2000); as well as the Lifetime Achievement Awards of the Hungarian Talent Support Organization (2012) and MENSA International (2012). One of the last public occasions he participated was the 1st Thematic Conference of ECHA in Dubrovnik in 2019, Croatia where he became the Honorary President of ECHA and received its Certificate. That was a moment of well-deserved honour for Franz’s many-decade long service for ECHA. I am truly glad that the ECHA community was able to give this to Him. We will miss Franz. He contributed a lot to our community and had personal friendship with many-many members in ECHA. Please keep Franz in your best memory, and think about those who were close to Him sharing their loss, pain and suffer.
Peter Csermely, president of ECHA