"O all the instruments agree/The day of his death was a dark cold day."


My father, Erich Theodor Richter III, slipped away last night after battling lung cancer for a year and a half.

Dad’s pride and joy was his garden, which was a riot of colorful hollyhocks in the summer and a tangle of squash vines in the fall. For him, gardening was both an art and a science, as he carried out elaborate cross-breeding experiments and charted his results over the years. He wrote outlandish science fiction stories, fantastical tales of bizarre alien creatures, which he’d illustrate with his own pen-and-ink sketches. He played chess and took Spanish lessons and entered poetry competitions. He was interested in everything, and he never stopped learning.



He was a voracious reader. His taste in entertainment was widespread and wildly egalitarian. He loved classic opera and Avatar and Shakespeare and Stephen King and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, all with the same degree of enthusiasm.

Dad had a generous nature, which revealed itself through his overwhelming and sometimes baffling hospitality. Visitors to his apartment would always find themselves presented with one of his signature cappuccinos, or a frosty iced tea, or a slice of his homemade mince pie, or, most likely, all three at once, whether they’d expressed any desire for it or not.

He enjoyed dabbling in the kitchen, where his scientific curiosity would run wild. His love of experimentation sometimes led to unpalatable results: he’d sneak vinegar into his cappuccinos and put grapefruit oil in his fudge, just to see if anything interesting would happen.

He was fascinated by scientific possibilities, and kept abreast of all the latest developments in string theory, chaos theory, quantum theory. He could pontificate on all of these topics at length, usually at parties after a couple glasses of wine.

He handled his illness with courage and good cheer, even though the outlook was grim. After receiving his diagnosis, he assured concerned friends and family members that he was doing just fine, albeit with what he described as “a faint touch of lung cancer.” He spent his final weeks surrounded by those who loved him best in the world.

He was a chemist and a gardener and a writer and a scholar. His intellect was as dazzling as his spirit was generous. He is loved, and he is missed. The world is a less interesting place without him in it.

Comments

Unknown said…
Beautiful, Morgan. You are held in awe by me. I will keep that eulogy forever.
Morgan Richter said…
Thank you. (Your ID is coming up as "Unknown," but I'm guessing this is Joe.) Dad was an extraordinary person, and he won't be soon forgotten.
DKoren said…
I'm so sorry for your loss. And this is indeed a beautiful eulogy that makes me wish I had met your father, tried one of those cappuccinos while talking opera with him (one of my great loves of life). My thoughts are with you and your family.
Morgan Richter said…
Thank you so much, Deborah.
Jennifer Howell said…
Morgan, I'm so sorry.

Sounds like your way with words and endless curiosity came from a truly amazing man.

I'll raise a glass to him tonight.

Jenn
Pontouficate said…
So wish I could have met him Morgan. But I'm glad he left behind two extraordinary human beings to carry on his legacy. Much much love my friend.
Morgan Richter said…
Thank you, Heather. You and dad would've gotten along famously.
Cheryl Kraynak said…
My heart goes out to you and your family, Morgan. After reading about your dad, I see where some of your great abilities and interests came from. I would have loved to have had a dad like him!
Stefan Blitz said…
Morgan, I lost my dad just over a year ago, and my thoughts are with you and your family.

You've written a lovely piece and I'm sure it only encapsulates a thimble of what a unique and special person he was.
Oren said…
Morgan, my condolences.
Oren
averys said…
Morgan, please accept my sympathy for your loss.
Morgan Richter said…
Cheryl, Stefan, Oren, Averys... thank you all. Your kind thoughts are most appreciated. Dad was such a unique and vibrant presence in the world that it's still difficult to wrap my head around the concept of him being gone.
JK said…
That's a precious photo of your dad with his squash. He looks so happy. Just remember that is how he would want you to be.

I lost my father a decade ago and I feel the same way about the world not being as nice of a place without him, but life has a way of throwing little reminders at you, as if those loved and lost are kind of still here, watching over you.

Condolences and best wishes. Let his memory rock on.
Patrick said…
Very sorry to hear that Morgan, my condolence to you and Ingrid. Best wishes, Patrick.
Morgan Richter said…
Thank you, Patrick.
Jason Gilman said…
Morgan, please accept my belated condolences as I didn't come across your beautiful eulogy until just today. Your dad was clearly an awesome guy, thank you for sharing a little bit about him. Best wishes to you and Ingrid.
Morgan Richter said…
Thank you, Jason. Your kind thoughts are much appreciated.
levitatethis said…
I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. This is beautiful tribute to your father. He sounds like a brilliant, fascinating man and I can only imagine how you're feeling. My love and condolences to you and your family.
Damozel said…
Please accept my belated condolences on your loss, Morgan. What a beautiful eulogy for a beautiful man. What a curious cat he was! Now I can see where his daughters got their gifts from. Best wishes, for you and your family.
Morgan Richter said…
He was an amazing person. Thanks very much for your condolences, levitatethis and Damozel.

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