exordia

"How are we to help those who die and those who have died?" --
Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

"By writing or reading obituaries,
we can discover ways to make our time on earth more worthwhile, more productive, more meaningful to others." -- Alana Baranick, "Life on the Death Beat"

"'I always read the obituaries in The Times,' I explained to her. 'They make me bloody glad to be alive.'" -- John Mortimer, "Rumpole's Return"

Noel Polk


Scholar and writer; world's foremost expert on Faulkner -- via the Picayune Item.

Nina Bawden

Writer -- via the New York Times.


Jack Lewis

Artist -- via delawareonline.com.

Remy Charlip

Artist, writer, choreographer, dancer, designer, and director -- via the New York Times.

Annie Kuebler

Jazz archivist -- via the Washington Post. One of the world's top experts on Ellington and Mary Lou Williams.


Neil Armstrong

Astronaut; first person to step upon the moon -- via the New York Times.

Armstrong was a hero, but not heroic. He was modest, but not "humble," as so many self-styled heroes are today. He simply didn't like the limelight, and didn't want people to make a fuss over him. He was far more than an adventurer -- he was a combat pilot, a test pilot, a very gifted aerospace engineer. All these skills made him a high-ranking candidate for the lunar expedition. Add to that his seemingly imperturbable calm, and he was the perfect choice.

It was Sunday night, July 20, 1969, 8:56 p.m. MDT. We gathered in front of our TV in the living room with a bunch of neighbors and watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. It was one of the defining moments of my life. I dreamed of going into space; we built rocket ships in our back yards out of cardboard boxes; we went on a million missions. Thanks, Neil . . . and Buzz and Michael and ALL the astronauts, from every country. Nothing is impossible.