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.