Thursday, February 15, 2007

Richard S. Prather, author

I have some sad news to report. Best-selling author, Richard S. Prather has passed away. (See my earlier post, Author Interviews to read more about him). I had been concerned these last couple of days about him. He has not been well for some time and about three weeks ago he hurt his back while picking up trash bags after his trash can had blown over. Last week he told me x-rays showed he had a compressed fracture of his spine and nothing could be done for it, except time for it to heal. He was having a lot of pain and said the only way he was somewhat comfortable was in bed. Walking was difficult.

On Wednesday morning I decided to call Sedona to find out what type of home care might be available for him, such as grocery shopping, light housekeeping, and maybe someone to cook some meals. I know he had been wanting some good home-made chicken soup with vegetables and rice. I had also suggested he needed a portable phone to have handy, something he did not have and told him I could order one for him if he wanted. So I had a list of phone numbers to give him after talking with a few Sedona social services organizations.

When I called about noon yesterday, he did not answer the phone. When he did not answer my second call four hours later, I became even more concerned and my intuition told me strongly something was wrong. I even thought of calling the Sheriff’s to have them check on him, but did not do so. This morning I called again. No answer. So I called the local hospital to see if he might be a patient there. He was not. I then called the homeopathic doctor I knew he had been seeing these last months. She returned my call an hour later to tell me that she and his other doctor had also become concerned and called the Sheriff’s Department yesterday to check on him. They found him dead in his bed. As I told her, in some ways I guess I was not surprised to hear that. I believe I was somewhat relieved to know he had not fallen and was unable to get to the phone. So at this point I do not know what will be his recorded date of death.

Richard S. Prather will be missed by many. His literary legacy will live on, and it seems kind of special that his last published (republished) book is now out there in the bookstores, The Peddler, first published in 1952. And I’m glad I was also able to publish online what has now turned out to be his last interview. He (and I) have been pleased with the response we have received to his interview, and he has been delighted with the excellent book reviews on The Peddler.

This last year when he struggled to complete my many questions for the interview, he had told me more than once that he was determined to get it done before he died. He also said we would not call it his "autobiography" as he knew of too many authors who died soon after publishing their autobiography. I told him we will just call it "your memoir."

I will miss him and our long telephone conversations about writing and life.



Bill Tufts said...

Several years ago, I wrote Mr. Prather a note of appreciation, in which I said of the unaging Shell Scott, “… my most comfortable friend is as unchanged as I am. As long as he's still 30, then some part of me is still 11, and still laughing out loud, thanks to you.”

He was kind enough to drop a line back, in which he said,
“Yes, Shell is still 30, and always will be. Even if there happens to be another adventure or two in the future, I promise he'll be vigorously 30, still full of beans, and never a day older. Maybe I'll ask Shell how the hell he does it. And if he tells me, Bill, I'll let you know.”

I’m fairly sure that he didn’t have to ask anyone how to stay mentally and spiritually vigorous. His body of work, his shared knowledge of practical writing, and his savoring of his lifelong love affair with Tina (“she's the lovely lady I described, over and over again, in a variety of different ways”) seems to have kept him from getting old.

Then, just recently, I decided to write him thank him again and to suggest alternatives to leaving the Death Gods manuscript on the shelf. I kept putting it off, and mailed it only last week. Thereby, even in his passing, the old son-of-a-gun has re-taught me a lesson - One smile for the living is worth a fountain of tears for the dead.

Therefore, rather than grieving his passing, I think I’ll just start my grandson on my Shell Scott books as soon as he’s old enough to appreciate them.

And I am sorry for your loss of a friend, and very appreciative of your being a loving source of information, and his channel on the Web.

Bill Tufts

Linda Pendleton said...

Thank you for sharing that with us. Keep smiling...Richard and Shell Scott would love that.

Linda Pendleton said...

The official date of death of Richard S. Prather is February 14, 2007.