Sunday, April 05, 2009


Robert E. Howard fandom has lost two tireless supporters of late. And I’ve lost two friends.

First, Steve Tompkins died March 23rd, although I didn’t find out about it until Friday, April 3rd. Steve was in REHupa with me, the Robert E. Howard foundation. We found out from his brother that he had been admitted into the hospital after a bout with food poisoning, but then had a heart attack, which is what killed him. He had been rallying from the food poisoning when the heart attack occurred. Steve lived in New York City where he worked for The Bank of New York. His parents and three brothers are still living and I know they must miss him terribly.

I only met Steve once in person, in Cross Plains, Texas for Howard Days, but we corresponded many times over the years. Steve was the most erudite person I’ve ever known, with a prodigious memory for literary works and a wonderfully witty style of writing about literature. He single-handedly raised the level of Howard scholarship with his many essays for REHupa, as well as his blog posts and his beautifully researched introductions and/or essays for a number of recent Howard books. He will be missed by many, and I’m one of them.

Then, on Saturday, April 4, I found out that Joan McCowen had died after a year long battle with cancer. Joan was a member of Project Pride, the local Cross Plains group that bought and restored the Robert E. Howard house and turned it into a museum. She always supported Howard's Legacy, and the Howard fans who trooped through Cross Plains every year. Joan was a strong presence every time I went to Cross Plains for Howard days. She was a personable and energetic woman, although in the last year or so she had really been hit hard by her illness. She too will be missed, and everywhere I look in Cross Plains this year there will be a blank spot hiding part of the world.



Anndi said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Not only were they treasured friends but good people.
May they Rest in Peace.

Travis Cody said...

I'm very sorry for these losses.

Travis Erwin said...

Hate to hear of the passing of your friends.

Sidney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sidney said...

I did not know either of them, but very sorry to hear of their passing. It indeed sounds like the world will be a little smaller without them.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

You have my sympathys. The loss of a friend is a hard road to walk.

Cath said...

So sorry for your losses Charles. Losses are hard when people have such an impact on your life.

I wish you healing and comfort.

MarmiteToasty said...

:( sorry to hear about your losses.... life aye.... (((Zen))) hugs to you..


Donnetta said...

Seems Death never comes singleton. Can be overwhelming. Will send good thought waves your way. D

Scott said...


I'm saddened by these losses, too. Joan was a great lady. I never had the opportunity to meet Steven Tompkins, but I always enjoyed reading his work, and wanted to meet him in person one day...Santa Muerte has been taking from us a bit too much lately.

writtenwyrdd said...

That's sad news. I'm sorry for your losses, Charles.

Charles Gramlich said...

Anndi, thanks.

Travis, Much appreciated.

Travis Erwin, especially when it’s such a shock, I think.

Sidney, both were very fine people.

ARCHAVIST, I appreciate that.

Cath, thank you.

MarmiteToasty, two more good ones gone.

Donnetta Lee, I appreciate that.

Scott, you’d have liked Steve. Great guy and man did he know his Howard.

writtenwyrdd, thanks, I appreciate it.

Lana Gramlich said...

I'm sorry, baby.

laughingwolf said...

so sorry for your losses, charles :(

blessings to their survivors...

Greg said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Charles. They both sound like good people, and I'm sure they'll be missed.

Erik Donald France said...

Sorry to hear about that. Sad news.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lana, thank you sweetness.

Laughingwolf, thanks, bud

Greg Schwartz, I appreciate that.

Erik, thanks.

the walking man said...

Tragedy that the loss is they have a good friend in you that allowed others to see a bit of them. In that Charles, you are to be commended.

ivan said...

I wondered in high school if poetry was that old moon-june stuff.
But I think trumps science.

We had to memorize this one, and I hope words can be a balm here.

Break, break, break

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

-- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Randy Johnson said...

Sympathies to you and the families for your losses. I've been through it and know the feelings.

BernardL said...

Very well done eulogies, Charles.

Charles Gramlich said...

Mark, thanks. I appreciate that.

ivan, yes, that is a great piece. At these times poetry does lend a comfort. I'm not always sure why but I feel it.

Randy Johnson, yes, it's the families who feel it most keenly. My thoughts go out to them.

BernardL, thank you.

AvDB said...

I'm sorry to hear about your friends, Charles. Their passing is a sad thing, but it is at least a small comfort that a good man like you remains to remember them.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Also sorry to hear about this.

jodi said...

You honored them well, Charles. Prayers for you and thier families.

Barrie said...

So sorry to hear of your losses. Barrie xo

moonrat said...

My condolences, Charles. It sounds like you were lucky to have one another while you did.

Rachel V. Olivier said...

Oh, I'm sorry.

Steve Malley said...

Elegant words at a difficult time...

L.A. Mitchell said...

Their families will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Charles Gramlich said...

Avery DeBow, I'll be working a long while to be as good as either of those two. But they made me better, and many others.

pattinase,thank you.

jodi, appreciated.

Barrie, thanks.

moonrat, good folks for sure. It would have been nice if they'd lived closer for more visiting time.

Rachel, I appreciate that.

Steve Malley, definitely not a pleasant weekend.

L.A. Mitchell, thanks.

Vesper said...

I'm so sorry, Charles.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hi Charles,

I'm so sorry about your friends -- it's hard to lose so many valuable and lovely people in such a short time.

Lisa said...

I'm very sorry to hear about your losses. May your friends rest in peace. :(

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

I am very sorry to hear of your losses. Life sometimes hits us and hits us hard. I am sure they must know the depth in which you cared for them. Remember they are never gone as long as we remember them.

Be easy and soft love,

SQT said...

Oh, that's awful. It's a small comfort I suppose, but I think it's nice they get to live on in your memory and through your kind words.

Shauna Roberts said...

I'm also sorry to hear about your friends. Both sound like special people that the world is worse off for losing.

writtenwyrdd said...

Hi Charles, I've given you an award. You can pick it up here.

Anne Vis said...

Wishing you strength, Charles!

Rick said...

Hey, Charles. Just stopped by in between things, and I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your friends. Reading of this has made me decide to spend a little less time training and more time with family and friends. Hang in there and I'll remember them in my prayers.

Charles Gramlich said...

Vesper, I appreciate that.

Michelle's Spell, yes, like a blow to the solar plexus followed by an uppercut.

Lisa, Yes, thank you.
Tara, I certainly have many memories. Thanks.

SQT, it's about all we have to offer.

Shauna Roberts, and yet murderes and rapists walk the earth.

writtenwyrdd, thankee. I appreciate that.

Anne Vis, thanks. Much appreciated.

Rick, I appreciate the kind words. Yes, now I wish I'd spent more time with them.

Chris Benjamin said...

Man, so sorry to hear it. With online tech we have the advantage of making so many friends so far away. But it's a hard loss when we hear sad news like this. I'm sorry for your loss, Charles.

Merisi said...

The passing of good people is a loss to all of us, but if one knew them well, it is always heartbreaking. I am so sorry for your loss.

David Cranmer said...

Sorry to hear this Charles.

Sarah Hina said...

Thank you for telling us a little about them, Charles. A beautiful tribute that reflected their goodness, and yours, too.

And I, too, am sorry that they were taken too soon.

Charles Gramlich said...

benjibopper, thanks. Yes, that's true about good friends being made at a distance now. I hadn't really thought of that.

Merisi, I believe that myself. The death of good folks diminishes us all a bit.

David Cranmer, thanks.

Sarah Hina, I appreciate that. It's pretty easy to write something about folks you love.

Barbara Martin said...

Losing good friends is always tragic, but you have the good times with them in your memories to call upon.

Charles Gramlich said...

Barbara, yes, memories can be a very good thing.