Well, Randy's gone.
It almost feels like a breach of protocol to refer to him as such on the stage side of the curtain, but he was never overly reticent when it came to biographical detail, and he only preferred to employ the Enola Gaia moniker here owing to his awareness of the miasma of mirth that sometimes accompanies the name 'Randy' on the British side of the Atlantic.
We've taken a day to gather the facts and ruminate on what it would be appropriate to release; I hope the following goes some way to satisfying everyone's natural curiosity without offending the sensibilities of his 'real-life' friends and family.
Randy was taken to hospital in the first week of December. He knew there was something seriously amiss ('I realised I was compromised' being his memorable phrase), but until the doctors informed him he'd had multiple heart attacks in a single day, he didn't know how bad it was.
Two weeks of boredom, medical tests, and food that was 'hard to take' ensued—the unpleasantries being compounded by a lack of Internet access—but he was glad to be home before Christmas, planning his revised lifestyle, and even tinkering with the controls here. I don't intend to quote his words extensively, but I suspect he would have contributed the following message (for fellow moderators) to the Christmas Thread if he had not been unwell and doubly plagued by extreme weather and power/connection outages:
In a curious way my illness has fostered more of the old fashioned basic "peace on earth; good will to men" Xmas holiday attitude in me and my contacts than I've seen in years. I've noticed more people ignoring Yuletide flash and frivolities and expressing more serious consideration of and affection for those they know. The messages and conversations incoming from folks who've not proactively communicated with me in years have been an unexpectedly comforting phenomena reminiscent of the ways we used to give more attention to expressing thanks for our families and friends.
I'd (...) request that everyone note and / or reflect upon how the peace and happiness takes the edge off the unrelenting existential edginess that's plagued us the last few years. This is the most important part of the season's meaning, and we'd do well to keep spreading genuine peace and happiness into the coming year.
Alas, he didn't make it that far; on Tuesday old friends in daily contact reported that he had relapsed and died at home in Ohio over the New Year.
His surviving relatives are mostly cousins, and as far as we know no funeral or memorial service has yet been planned. I have just been sent a contact address for them and intend to write with our collective condolences tonight, taking cues for content from this thread. Any additional information I receive, will, of course, appear here.
I had thought first to write of Randy's fearsome intelligence, but on putting that down in pixels, I realised at once that it was inaccurate, for while he was undoubtedly a very clever man, his tone was seldom condescending and he rarely spoke down to others. It's certainly true that he could leave me dumbstruck at times with his flights of logic, but this was always unintentional; he was no obscurantist and, as he might have put it himself, he did not view intimidation as a constructive tool.
All of the moderators had a good relationship with him. Being hyper-efficient certainly helped, but he was also very accommodating and would patiently lay out the complex technicalities of why we were liable to be overrun with Russian spybots or some mercenary hacker crew if we didn't take steps A, B and C—and as you can see, this mesage board is spotless, spamless, and enviably well-ordered!
It took only a couple of weeks for the two of us to become pretty much totally simpatico in terms of the aims and management of the board, and I couldn't have asked for a more supportive partner. He took an interest in my family and offered the kind of frank and incisive 'over the horizon' advice (a favoured term of his) that can only bridge the generational gap if expressed carefully and with love.
I shall miss him.
As chance would have it, he told me the song he 'might want played' at his funeral: