GoodKnight Services Held

Diana, Lynn Maudlin and I went together to Glen GoodKnight’s funeral at Rose Hills Memorial Park on November 13. Around 50 people gathered in the impressive SkyRose chapel, a vast, airy gothic structure set high on a hill, the sanctuary window overlooking Los Angeles skyscrapers 15 miles away.

We were greeted by Bonnie Callahan, then joined other early arrivers in the narthex beneath a giant video screen to watch a slideshow of fine photos of Glen with Ken Lauw, at events with other friends and family, and posing at tourist spots in Oxford, Paris and Berlin.

When the memorial began, people shared the profound impact Glen had on their lives.

One of Glen’s former teaching colleagues told about her pleasure exchanging ideas with him about things to try in the classroom, and her admiration for his work on teachers’ union issues.

Doris Robin, a founding Mythopeoic Society member, spoke about Glen’s leadership. Sherwood Smith spoke about meeting Glen and other Tolkien fans when she was a 16-year-old high school student, and how great it had been to discover people who took fantasy stories seriously and liked to discuss them for hours. Messages of condolence from other literary organizations were read.

Ken Lauw, Glen’s partner, spoke about their 22 years of friendship, their 2008 marriage and how devastating it was to lose his teacher, mentor, protector and friend.

Later in the day I saw that the online Los Angeles Times had published Glen’s obituary. Because of how these things work in fandom I never really gave a lot of thought to whether GoodKnight was his “real” name – but it was:

For a man preoccupied with all things Tolkien, his name appeared invented: Glen Howard GoodKnight II. But it was authentic, down to the unexpected capital “K” that stands sentry like a castle in Middle-earth….

He was born Oct. 1, 1941, the eldest of three children of Glen GoodKnight, who made his living doing odd jobs, and his wife, the former Mary Bray. His last name was an anglicized version of the German “Gutknecht,” according to his family. Society made in Glen’s memory will go toward helping deserving scholars to attend Mythopoeic Conferences.

Also, Lynn Maudlin has announced that the Council of Stewards of the Mythopoeic Society has decided to rename the “Starving Scholars Fund,” which helps selected academics afford to attend Mythcons, the “Glen GoodKnight Scholarship Fund.” This will memorialize Glen’s focus on scholarship and his encouragement of new scholars.

Update 2010/11/14: Corrected spelling of Doris Robin, per comment.

Glen GoodKnight (1941-2010)

Glen GoodKnight, founder of the Mythopoeic Society, died November 3. As Bonnie Callahan told readers of a Yahoo group:

“….Glen GoodKnight passed away on Wednesday night. He had been in poor health for a number of years, but was actively participating in many online activities, cataloging his collection for eventual sale/donation, and appeared to be in stable condition.”

I was often in the home of Glen Goodknight and his partner Ken Lauw when I was on Glen’s 1997 Mythcon committee. It was the ideal fan’s home, walls covered with bookcases, though unlike other fans Glen’s shelves were filled with editions of Lord of the Rings in every language it had appeared: collecting them was his passion. He was a highly interesting and very knowledgeable fan.

Glen founded the Mythopoeic Society in 1967 in the aftermath of the legendary “Bilbo-Frodo Birthday Picnic” held in September of that year. He invited fans to his house on October 12 to form a continuing group. The 17 attendees became the Society’s first members. Within a few years they had planted 14 discussion groups around the country. In 1972 at the suggestion of Ed Meskys of the Tolkien Society of America the two organizations merged and overnight the Society grew to more than a thousand members.

Mythcon I in 1970 was organized to help knit the Society’s different groups together. Glen married Bonnie GoodKnight (later Callahan) at Mythcon II in 1971.

Glen edited 78 issues of the Society journal Mythlore between 1970 and 1998.

After staying away from Mythcons for several years, Glen returned to celebrate the Society’s 40th anniversary at Berkeley in 2007. Greeted with a standing ovation, he delivered an emotion-filled reminiscence of the Society’s early days. Glen came back to Mythcon the following year, too. I was glad to see him renewing his links with the Society. Now I’m sad to know I won’t be in his company again.

Ken Lauw and Glen GoodKnight at 2007 Mythcon.