I haven't really even talked to RMS since the late 1980s, when he was bopping around CMU getting misled by the Mach 3.X people about how efficient their microkernel architecture was: Sys calls were really slow, but once you mapped a file, reading the next byte was fast, so they'd tell you how fast 'getc' was, since it was basically *data_pointer++; in reality, everything else was slow. IIRC they also convinced IBM to structure (a version of?) OS/2 around the same micro-kernel principles, with the result that we all know.
But despite Hurd never coming to fruition, everything else he did, including inspiring the entire Free Software movement, has been a massive success, well beyond what I, or probably anyone else who knew him back in the 1970s, could have believed possible.
My vague recollection from the late 1970s, was that he hated AT&T for refusing to make Unix(TM) free, and he decided that in retaliation, he was going to rewrite everything they did and give it away. I mean, it was obviously ridiculous -- he's just some guy (TM), and AT&T was The Death Star.
But looking back, of course, he actually did it. Linux provided the OS, of course, but the compilers, editors, and more tools than I can count all came from GNU/FSF, and no small number of them were written by RMS himself. I've known my share of awesome programmers in my day, but i can't think of anyone who cranked out as much well designed, if poorly documented, code, than RMS. Not even close. The Free Software model has taken over the world, leaving AT&T in the dust, and even convincing Microsoft to join rather than fight.
So, let's all raise a cold one in Stallman's honor.