Recent Passings

As the New Year begins, we note with sadness the passing of two significant individuals.

From very different walks of professional life, each was imbued with similar endearing qualities, including a zestful passion for life and living, that each was glad to share with others.

One was notoriously messy. His faculty office had paper piles and files stacked up one upon the other. Books lined shelves without discernible arrangement.

And contrary to similar stories about others, he could not find much of anything either easily or rapidly.

Once, over a weekend, the security people found his office door unlocked and slightly ajar – neither was unusual for its often-distracted occupant.

Peeking inside and observing the incredible disarray, security filed an “incident report” indicating the office had been broken into by vandals who had ransacked and “trashed” it.

The office occupant was advised of this upon returning to work on Monday. Things, he said, looked pretty normal to him.

His university teaching career extended for more years than most of his colleagues had been alive, and for a decade he functioned as Department Chair for 20-plus rambunctious college faculty. He was patient with colleagues, even with those (like me) who would go beyond what most find reasonable.

He could simultaneously nurse a perfect Manhattan and a pipe while petting a dog and turning the pages of The New York Times.

The other, dangerously fashionable and impeccable, held down a full-time position requiring secrecy and national security clearance at one of the nation’s top companies while simultaneously raising (well) three rambunctious boys and one well-behaved girl.

She happily welcomed to her home a foreigner (from New Jersey), introducing him to the cultural advantages of upstate New York, including the weekly Friday fish fry and the card game “Uno.”

Taking pleasure at her children’s and husband’s accomplishments, she never sought credit, though much was deserved.

Tom O’Brien died at 91 years on December 12, 2014.

Marge (Peg, Peggy) Brule died just short of her 90th on January 3, 2015.

Sad though we are at their passing, we celebrate their lives here and suggest each offered much to emulate and admire.