It seems he was one of a kind.
Although his passing hasn’t made too many headlines in English-language media, if Twitter’s reaction is anything to go by, it’s being felt deeply right here in Turkey.
A lot of the tweets about him are in Turkish. Some have called him hoca, an esteemed title for a teacher. The person below says he was the one who knew Istanbul best — quite a feat for a foreigner. Another Twitter user called him the person who understood the Ottoman Empire the best.
İstanbul'u en iyi bilen kişi, Amerikalı bir fizik profesörüydü 🙂
John Freely yazdığı her kitapla şehri tanımayı öğretti, gezdirip sevdirdi. pic.twitter.com/UU1enzwwuy
— Başak (@carnafauna) April 20, 2017
The American physics professor, who was faculty at Istanbul’s Bogazici University, made a side-career out of writing about Istanbul and Turkey.
john freely'yi kaybetmişiz allah mekanını cennet etsin serbestçe yaşayan adam… pic.twitter.com/BeWMOjCP8I
— saltuk haber aj (@kozheyci) April 20, 2017
Above: The university’s e-mail message informing its community about Freely’s death.
His ‘Strolling Through Istanbul’, a more than 500 page guide detailing the city and its history, has received praise from the press and regular web users alike.
— Ro Lavender (@PCS_Ro) July 17, 2016
I haven’t read it yet, but now I’ll be sure to get my hands on a copy.
His tome — and his prolific output — is proof is always more to learn about this mysterious city.