Josh – In the summer of 1967, you came to St. Louis to camp out at my house, just as Dave Michelmore, Larry Dilg, and I were also using my house as a staging area for our departure to Mississippi. We were preparing to tutor black kids who were about to integrate white Mississippi schools that fall in the last year of the implementation of Brown v. Board of Education. I have no memory of exactly what you were doing in St. Louis or where you were headed.
The legend in my family, however, is that after the three of us took off for the long drive to the Deep South, you remained in residence for several days at my house. Your ebullience and warmth, of course, won over my family. But my mother and sister never got over your propensity to traipse through the house wearing only a towel, as you strided nobly from the shower in the hall bathroom to the back bedroom which you had staked out.
At this stage of life, you are entitled to fantasize that they were awestruck at the display of your hyper-masculine varisty crew physique. However, the punch line of the family legend actually relates more to the display of unparalleled New Rochelle chutzpah.
Either way, your out-sized persona left an indelible mark on my family, just as you have with me – with your endless empathy, your keen intelligence, your lifelong commitment to walk the talk, your unsanctimonious pretension-puncturing humor, and your salt of the earth grin.
It was wonderful to see you in California for the last big round number birthday, and my thoughts are with you and Jill every day now.
Peace and love,