Thursday, September 20, 2007

Back to Business, But Not as Usual

From the fall introduction:

...America likes to think

Every one can recover from every thing,
But about this,
Especially, America is wrong.

—Liam Rector, "Back to Country with Pulitzer"

The editors note with regret departures by three friends who have helped and inspired us and whom we have loved as a part of Ropewalk, the Press, the Reading Series, and the Review. One of these, the departure of former managing editor Jim McGarrah for sunnier climes in Florida, is not such a painful loss for Jim but for all his friends here in Indiana who will miss seeing him on a daily basis.

The other two departures, however, are causes for sadness and alarm. The death, in August, of Jim Blevins, dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Southern Indiana, came after a long bout with prostate cancer and deprives us of a friend who was instrumental in creating the structures--financial and intellectual--which permitted our projects to flourish. We will miss his wise counsel, his optimistic outlook, his enthusiasm regarding all the creative arts, and the particular interest he took in our success.

The death of Liam Rector at age fifty-seven in New York City came as an especially severe blow to his many friends here at USI. It was at the time of Matthew Graham’s wedding in 1987 that Liam, a member of the wedding party, first proposed that New Harmony would be an ideal place for a literary retreat. Out of that notion, and with Liam’s encouragement and support, Ropewalk itself was born, followed in time by all of the ancillary programs.

Liam continued to be a close friend and follower of our projects. He led panel discussions at Ropewalk, read several times on campus, and continued to advise us in long, often late-night phone calls (for which he was famous). While Liam’s program at Bennington often put us in competition with him for workshop leaders we would have liked to recruit, his warm friendship and advice more than compensated for the loss. Nothing, however, will compensate for the death of such a close, close friend. Our sympathies in particular go out to his wife, Tree Swenson, and his daughter, Virginia Rector.


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