Monday, May 05, 2008

Of Blessed Memory

Yesterday marked a year since the death of one of the most erudite men it's ever been my pleasure to know: my stepfather Marty Laforse.

This polyglot polymath could make friends with anyone in five languages, or nonverbally. Everyone who talked to him felt appreciated; everyone who listened to him felt more educated.

A professor of American studies at Ithaca College for many years, his expertise and enthusiasms were wide-ranging and included the Civil War, the Weimar Republic, Louis Armstrong, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Gershwins. He loved making soup, gardening, his grandchildren, and my mother, with whom he had many adventures across the globe in the 15 years they had together.

He was deeply valued by the many friends he made in nearly 80 years of zesty living, and I feel lucky to have known him and been the beneficiary and occasional cause of his charming grin.

A scholarship has been set up in his name. Appropriately, it benefits students who patronize the library in Kingston, New York, which he served as a board member.

It's rare that a head can contain so much knowledge and a heart so much love. I miss him terribly.

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