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In memoriam Ronald D. Halstead

We have prepared this memorial page to honor Oberon co-founder Ron Halstead as a friend, and for his contributions to Oberon and to the wider Shakespeare authorship community. We welcome personal comments and remembrances here.

Ron Halstead at Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario October 4, 2014

by Linda Theil

On November 14, 2014, Oberon chairperson Richard Joyrich, MD, reported the death of Ronald Halstead, at the age of 74 at his home in Royal Oak, Michigan:
I am quite saddened to have to report the sudden passing of our dear friend Ronald Halstead last Friday November 7, 2014. Ron has been a long-standing member of the Oberon group and will be sorely missed.
There will be a memorial service for Ron at William Sullivan and Son Funeral Home at 705 W 11 Mile Road in Royal Oak (east of Woodward and west of Main St) [on Nov. 22] at 3-5 PM. Here is a link to the obituary and other information on the funeral home website:
Joyrich said later:
I have known Ron Halstead for 15 years, ever since the Oberon group was founded by Ron, his wife Barbara Burris, and myself. During this time, I have come to know Ron as a scholar and a gentleman. He has been very active in presenting his many research interests to us at the Oberon Group as well as presenting many of them at several national conferences. I was constantly amazed at how well informed Ron was on almost any subject that would come up. In addition, I always found him to be extremely cordial and easy to talk to, while at the same time, he would stick to the conclusions he had reached. I can honestly say that there is now yet another unfillable hole in the Oberon group. Ron will be very sorely missed by all of us.
At Ron Halstead's memorial service on November 22, 2014, Oberon member Robin Browne spoke of our beloved friend at William Sullivan & Son Funeral Home, Royal Oak, Michigan where mourners gathered to honor Ron, and comfort his wife of 47 years, Oberon co-founder Barbara Ann Burris.

Oberons also attending included George and Sharon Hunter, Rosie Hunter, Richard Joyrich, Rey Perez, Linda Theil, Pam Verlone, and Mara Radzvickas.

Robin Browne said:
An article in The Eccentric pin points the date I first met Barbara Burris and Ron Halstead: Wednesday 18 October 2000. We met at the Baldwin Library in Birmingham, Michigan, following a wonderful lecture given by a researcher from Northern England, Derran Charlton.
I quote from the newspaper which I have kept these past fourteen years: ‘The retired coalminer, Mr. Charlton, was sipping tea at the Royal Oak home of Barbara Burris, a member of the local chapter of The Shakespeare Oxford Society’, subsequently to be called the Oberon Chapter. The following day I joined Barbara, Ron and Derran at a nearby coffee house where we enthusiastically discussed our common interest with the Shakespeare authorship debate, something I had pursued since the mid-1960s. I immediately warmed to Ron’s gentle nature, his knowledge on the subject, and his deep passion for research.
The Oberon group has met nearly every month since my introduction to Ron and Barbara. Over the years we have shared many enjoyable hours together, at meetings Ron would often enthrall us with his research and original ideas, at book shops we would hunt out new publications together and occasionally share moments at his home which was only a stone’s throw from where my father-in-law lived.
Whoever wrote the Shakespeare plays -- be it Francis Bacon, Edward De Vere, Marlow or Spencer -- was of an exceptional mind. For the plays reflect great learning, the ancient classics, history, philosophy, language, the Bible and an understanding of the law. The author or authors of this great collection of plays were incredibly knowledgeable and displayed a notable sense of humor.
Had Ron Halstead lived four hundred years ago he would have been at one with the author(s). He had all the same attributes, a brilliant mind, knowledge of the classics, well read, a student of the Bible and someone who smiled, laughed and had a wonderful sense of humor.
I shall always remember him as a friend bursting with knowledge and passionate about so many different interests, the kind of person you meet one or twice in a lifetime.
Fond wishes and happy memories.
Ron Halstead at Overture Center Madison Wisconsin, September 14, 2014

In addition to Robin's tribute, the memorial officiant Michael Kairis read a loving letter from Barbara Burris about her life with Ron. She quoted Sonnet 30 in it's entirety and attributed it to Edward de Vere, Shake-speare. Many, many friends took the podium to praise Ron for his gentleness and kindness, for his work in the union movement, and the peace movement, and many other passionate interests.

I was reminded of yet another aspect of Ron's knowledge and delight, the work of Eugene O'Neill. This passage from Long Day's Journey into Night is an expression of the joy and wonder that filled Ron's life.
. . . I lay on the bowsprit, facing astern, with the water foaming into spume under me, the masts with every sail white in the moonlight, towering high above me. I became drunk with the beauty and singing rhythm of it and for a moment I lost myself, actually lost my life. I was set free! I dissolved in the sea became the white sails and flying spray, became beauty and rhythm, became moonlight and the ship and the high dim-starred sky! I belonged, without past or future, within peace and unity and a wild joy, within something greater than my own life, or the life of Man, to Life itself! 

The following is a partial listing of talks that Ron presented at authorship conferences and Oberon Shakespeare Study Group meetings:

2006 SOS/SF Conference (Ann Arbor, MI) "Suffer a Sea-Change: Sources of the Alchemical Images of the The Tempest in a Life Crisis of Edward deVere" (about John Dee's relationship to Oxford)

2009 SOS/SF Conference (Houston, TX) "The Influence of the Family of Love on the Theme of Forgiveness in Measure for Measure"

2011 SOS/SF Conference (Washington, DC): "A Miracle, A Miracle-Shapiro's Defense of the Stratford Claim"

2013 SOS/SF Conference (Toronto, ON): "Death of a Dictator: The Dangerous Timeliness of Julius Caesar and the Authorship Question"

2014 SOF Conference (Madison, WI): "What's Hecuba to Him? Connecting Life and Drama in Hamlet"


March, 2009 Oberon meeting: A talk on Measure for Measure

Feb, 2013 Oberon meeting: “Meeting Delia Bacon Again-for the First Time” 

February, 2014 Oberon meeting: "Julius Caesar and Authorship" (This was a "followup presentation" of Ron's presentation at the Toronto Conference)

June, 2014 Oberon meeting: "References to Shakespeare in George Orwell's 1984"


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