So, this month began with my newest publication, a piece I wish I'd never need write at all: a memoir of my friend Richard West, one of the all-time greats when it came to Tolkien scholars and a close friend of almost forty years (he was Best Man at our wedding).
I'd recently written about how much I enjoy visiting Milwaukee because it's a chance to see old friends. One of the sad things about visits to Milwaukee is that in addition to getting together with friends I'm also strongly reminded of friends who are no longer with us. Taum Santoski of course, and also Jim Pietrusz, the most dedicated reader I've ever known, and now Richard.
For the past few years I've visited Marquette twice a year for research trips of from one to four weeks each, And during each of those trips Richard wd take the morning bus over from Madison one day. We'd meet up for lunch and walk down to Miss Katie's diner,* then spend the afternoon pursuing our own researches at the Archives. As the time for the six o'clock bus back to Madison neared I'd walk him down to the bus station (just as years earlier he or one of the other Univ.Wisc.Tolk.Soc members had walked me back from their meeting room to the Madison bus stop for the last bus to Milwaukee), the two of us talking up a storm the whole way. I'll miss those visits, and those talks. And reading the eventual published results. Richard was also a dedicated participant in a long running series of Tolkien symposiums; the fellowship from this will continue but diminish by this absence.
He loved Tolkien scholarship
and the company of like-minded scholars,
Old English and Old Norse literature,
and C. S. Lewis and the Inklings,
and of course Perri.
Here's a link to the journal's site: my memoir for Richard is in Volume XVIII
*sometimes joined by Bill Fliess, Marquette Archivist, or Stephen Sullivan, an alumni of TSR from before my time and fellow Alitterate who happened to be Richard's cousin.