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.

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5 thoughts on “GoodKnight Services Held

  1. Thanks for reporting this. Would have liked to have been there.

    On a time, “is GoodKnight his real name?” was the second question new members of the Mythopoeic Society would ask. (The first question was, “Who is Charles Williams?”) The potted explanation of “yes” was part of the virtual new-members packet.

    Not to be too damp on a fine memorial idea, but did the Council of Stewards know that the Starving Scholars Fund already had a name? It was named for Jane Yolen, who founded it.

  2. Mike, I very much appreciate this write-up, and the chance to learn more about Glenn GoodKnight, whom I never met, but have read both a moderate amount about and by, over the decades. Thanks so much for it.

    Entirely separately, DB comments:

    “Not to be too damp on a fine memorial idea, but did the Council of Stewards know that the Starving Scholars Fund already had a name? It was named for Jane Yolen, who founded it.”

    This is not the first time this has happened in sf/fantasy fandom.

    The E. Everett Evans “Big Heart Award” was renamed after, apparently, enough people didn’t give a damn about remembering E. Everett Evans, which in my mind completely defeats the purpose of having named the award after him, which was, you know, so people would remember him.

    So instead the award was renamed to the name of someone everyone knows, and doesn’t need to be remind of, because he’s still so incredibly well-known, and won’t be forgotten any time in the next ten or twenty or thirty years. (No insult to the renamee intended, who deserves great honor, and has received it, and since who he is completely irrelevant to my point, which is why I don’t mention the name of this truly great fan, no matter that most of you know who I mean.)

    Easy come, easy go, apparently. Way to honor and remember E. Everett Evans!

    Readers might guess, though certainly aren’t apt to care, that I thought this decision was absolutely appalling, and I can’t imagine a greater way to insult the memory of Triple-E, and dishonor him, and therefore dishonor an award that was already never transparent, and seemed to amount to, in essence, letting a couple of individuals use the Worldcon to present their personal choices with an award that was treated with the aura of being more than the choice of two or three people (were there more involved? Sometimes, yes, but you’d only know if, you knew who to ask.

    But obviously my opinion is minority, if not unique.

    I think honoring the memory of people by naming things after them is wonderful.

    I think the idea of naming something after someone, and then deciding to rename it, unless it’s because it’s been discovered that the original namee is is a child molestor, mass murderer, or equivalent, is, well, not a way I’d ever go myself. It strikes me as a big FU to the original name, as well as suggesting that the entire concept of trying to remember people by naming things after them is pointless. (Ultimately it is, of course, but the idea should be, I thought, to keep trying until it becomes truly pointless, which I would say should take at least a couple of hundred years, several human generations, not a couple of decades, while the original namee should darn well still be remembered, and is by some.)

    Or possibly people should formally set term limits, if the idea is to remember someone only if you’ve otherwise heard of them, and then drop-kick them for someone currently popular and more freshly deceased.

    Is it really just me who thinks that’s crazy? If not, Grant’s Tomb could presumably be put to better use; why not move Reagan, or Ted Kennedy in, and rename it?

  3. I wish I could have been there. A friend in LA send me the article from the Times. I was about 15 years old when I saw a flyer in a used book store in Whittier plugging the Society and in the pre-internet days I wrote or called the contact person. I ended up corresponding with Bonnie who was lovely and put me in touch with the local chapter. At that time it was a life saver for me to find other people who wanted to read and discuss books – my life was so enriched by the people in the Mythopoeic Society. My condolences to Glen’s family.


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