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In memoriam R. Thomas Hunter, PhD

Happy days together: Tom Hunter (on right) with Rosey and Richard Joyrich at Horton Bay General Store, Horton Bay, Michigan during an Oberon Up-North excursion in the summer of 2009

October 3, 2011 Bloomfield Twp., MI
Oberon Vice-chairman Richard Joyrich said:

As some of you may have heard, Tom Hunter suffered a massive cardiac event last Friday afternoon while sitting outside of his cottage on the shores of Northern Michigan's Torch Lake, considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.

After a (mercifully painless) hospitalization in Traverse City Tom departed this world at around 3 AM this morning.

Although our local group, Oberon, was started in 1999 by Barbara Burris and myself and Tom joined us a little later, he has become (in my opinion at least) the soul of our group. He has served as our Chair for these many years and has kept us on track and helped build Oberon into a well-respected local Oxfordian group (of course I don't want to take away from all the great efforts of many of you).

Tom's death is a great loss for Oberon, as well as for the Oxfordian world in general. Tom has been very active in doing research and has published many papers in Oxfordian newsletters and other media outlets. He has presented many papers at our national conferences. In fact he was scheduled to give half of a presentation at the upcoming conference in two weeks in Washington, DC. Luckily (for Oxfordians) Tom Townsend will be able to present both his own and Tom Hunter's parts of the presentation so that Tom's latest contribution will at least be heard. I only regret the loss of any future great work from Tom.

I can take a little comfort in the fact that Tom was able to see the movie Anonymous at a special preview event last Thursday at the University of Michigan, a movie poised to revitalize interest in the Authorship Question. Again, I'm just sorry that Tom will not be able to directly experience what I feel will be very interesting times ahead for all of us.

My heart and prayers go out to Tom's wife Rosey and his daughter Lisa as well as his large extended family.

Finally, I am comforted with the knowledge that at last Tom knows the truth about the origins of the Shakespeare canon, a truth we should (with Tom's example) continue to pursue for ourselves.

"Now cracks a noble heart. Goodnight sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing you to your rest"
Hamlet, Act V

Rest in Peace, Tom.

With great sadness,
Richard Joyrich

R. Thomas Hunter, PhD, was laid to rest October 8, 2011.
The celebration of Tom's life was held on Friday, October 7 from 2:00-8:00 pm with visitation at the A.J. Desmond Funeral Home, 2600 Crooks Road, in Troy, Michigan. 248-362-2500.
Services were held on Saturday, October 8 at 11:00 am at St. Hugo of The Hills, 2215 Opdyke Rd, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. 248-644-5460. The funeral procession proceeded to the Resurrection Cemetery 18201 Clinton River Road, Clinton Township, Michigan. Following Tom’s farewell, there was a luncheon at the Fern Hill Golf Course, 17600 Clinton River Road, directly across from the Resurrection Cemetery.

Words of those who wished to memorialize our friend   R. Thomas Hunter, PhD (1942-2011)

I always wanted to hear what Tom was researching and writing about. He brought to those tasks a very considerable training including a PhD in English that made him into a leader of the Oxfordian movement. I have many fond memories of Tom, but my favorite one is from Shapiro's lecture in Stratford, Ontario last summer. Shapiro ended up taking quite a few questions from Oxfordians or people who sounded like they were coming from an Oxfordian perspective, and Tom was the last person he called on. Since he was sitting in another part of the room from other Oxfordians, Shapiro thought he was "safe." Big mistake. Tom started off by linking his question to some of those that had come before, and then asked Shapiro why so many Shakespearean scholars thought that Polonius was a caricature of Burghley, and if that could have anything to do with authorship. Really not the question Shapiro wanted to end the talk on. Tom was a real leader for us in many ways -- the kind of leader who keeps focussed on what matters. Psi

Dear Rosey: My heart goes with you and for you. The husband,Tom, will always be with you. I saw how close you two were. You will miss this humble and generous person that Tom was and so will many of us. His patience and discipline and knowledge manifested the teacher he was, always to be there to reference in heart and soul. Bruna Lilly

I grieve at the sad loss of Tom, and express my heartfelt condolences to Rosey, Lisa, family and friends. His startling brilliance and careful/ thoughtful reasonings added so much to all of our lives. I first met Tom -in the States- many years ago, and so much enjoyed his welcomed presence and carefully reasoned correspondence. Less than a month ago I was assisting with the preparation of his forthcoming book The Merchant of Venice. A gentleman has passed our way. Derran Charlton

Though I only knew Tom from his postings I must be counted as one who was touched by his death. I always appreciated his clarity and insight. There is no shock quite like that of the sudden death of a loved one. My own husband died in a thirty second interval while we were laughing over a private joke. My heart goes out to Tom's family. After the storm there is calm. Sundra

 I too will greatly miss Tom Hunter whose wise correspondence both to Phaeton and myself I always found encouraging and instructive. Richard Malim

I always learned something I did not know from Tom, a gentle-hearted soul on his way to Paradise. We will miss him. Tell me not in mournful numbers. Life is but an empty dream! For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem. Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou art, to dust returnest, Was not spoken of the soul. A psalm of life. Sidney Lubow

So sad to hear this devastating news. I will be forever grateful to Tom for wholeheartedly supporting the Shakespeare read aloud group. Annette and I especially cherish the enthusiasm with which he tackled the reading of A Christmas Carol at our house a couple of years ago and for being such a gracious host at his house gatherings near the holiday season. You will be missed very much by us, Tom. Prashant & Annette Andrade

I would like Tom's family to know how much I miss him already and extend my deepest sympathy. I recall first meeting Tom on one of our forums and knew right away that here was a clear, honest voice from a man who drew upon all of himself for his ideas and insights. I valued him more and more as time went on and was always glad to see him in person. Tom, you remain in our hearts. Hank Whittemore

I had the immense pleasure of going round Detroit with Tom and hanging out with him and Rosey a few years ago. Rosey and Lisa, my deepest sympathy to you and all his extended family. "We shall not look upon his like again." Sarah Smith

My first encounter with Tom Hunter was through one of the list-serves. He offerred to check for me a reference I had seen--because he was going to the Folger Shakespeare Library himself. This indicated essential human generosity. When I ran into him soon after at the Ashland conference in April 2011, he confirmed the impression of warmth. He was a mensch, someone of bright natural cheer. It has been said that a soul is reborn in the same astrological sign in which he died. If so, Tom will be much the same. May his goodness emanate then as now. William Ray

This is part of a tribute sent from Dr. Heward Wilkinson: ". . . we have here the brilliant, Autolycus-like, knack of seeing connections, and valuing unexpected sources, that ‘snapping up of unconsidered trifles’, yet in the light of a sturdy commonsense, which made it such a joy to collaborate creatively with Tom. There was always a sense of very deep recognition and appreciation, which was entirely unfeigned, and which extended to the Oberon group as a whole, in my experience, - to whom, as well as to Tom’s family, our hearts go out. 

My deepest condolences to Tom's family and many friends. He was a brilliant scholar who will be missed by all of us who revere Shakespeare as he did. Cheryl Eagan-Donovan

on 10/8/11

Heward Wilkinson: In memoriam Tom Hunter

I first came into contact with Tom in 2007, when some discussion on Nina Green’s email discussion forum Phaeton, which I had recently joined, took up tOche issue of who Nashe was referring to in his Preface to Greene’s Menaphon [ p. 6] when he alluded to the King of Fairies…. 
“Our local authorship discussion group Oberon has recently been asking why we had that name. Why would we name ourselves after the King of Fairies?  As founding members recall, the name was introduced by another member who since disappeared, but they couldn't remember why.We asked what relevance the name had to anything we did.

Then came a brief excerpt from p. 43 of a manuscript by Heward Wilkinson which he forwarded to me and did offer to the readership of Phaeton at large:

"Edward de Vere's ancestor, who came over with the Conqueror (Gardner, 1999) was Alberic de Vere--Albry, Aubrey, Auberon, Oberon."

I haven't had time to consult the reference cited, but here Dr. Wilkinson appears to solve not only the identity crisis of our discussion group--we were named after the original de Vere--but also potentially identifies "the King of Fairies" in Nashe's reference as Oxford himself in the derived identity of his predecessor.  Do we have here then a precious insight into the life of Shakespeare, a snapshot of actors anticking up and down the country with their benefactor?”

Apart from not only generously appointing me Doctor, four years before I attained that standing, we have here the brilliant, Autolycus-like, knack of seeing connections, and valuing unexpected sources, that ‘snapping up of unconsidered trifles’, yet in the light of a sturdy commonsense, which made it such a joy to collaborate creatively with Tom. There was always a sense of very deep recognition and appreciation, which was entirely unfeigned, and which extended to the Oberon group as a whole, in my experience, - to whom, as well as to Tom’s family, our hearts go out.

Just the last few weeks I found myself again collaborating with Tom, taking up a serious challenge from Stratfordian Mark Johnson, on the Linked-In discussion of ‘Is Shakespeare a Fraud?’ concerning whether the appearance of the recognitions of Shakespeare as a Gentleman, (Mr., M., Gent., etc.), had ensued, following the Stratfordian’s acquiring that status in 1601. Tom rapidly found a 19th century tome, and followed up both the legitimate Shakespeare Quartos and the Apocryphal ones, while I followed limply in his wake, posting the results on Linked-In! King Lear, in 1608, turned out to be the earliest Quarto with this designation. So, then we began to turn our attention to the earliest reference to ‘Mr. Shakespeare’, in the Parnassus plays (c1601-2), and meanwhile we were digesting Peter Dickson’s Bardgate, which arrived on our doorsteps roughly simultaneously, and exchanging banter about our respective presentations at the Shakespeare Authorship Conference, and I went so far, in my vanity, as to burden Tom with a glimpse at a draft of my presentation, and I was just beginning to wonder why he had not replied – when this terrible news came in…

A couple of glimpses of Tom from this correspondence:

“Heward, has there ever been a conference draft that didn't need pruning? I had a chance to visit my library and almost immediately came up with Tucker Brooke's The Shakespeare Apocrypha (1908).  This does have reproductions of the title pages of some 14 plays.  I will get the information off to you asap.  I am curious where you are wanting to take this inquiry.  
I took a serendipitous journey through a pile of papers on my desk and found the Fall 1999 Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter Vol 35, No. 3.  In it was Part II of Robert Brazil's "Edward de Vere and the Shakespeare Quartos."  You could always count on Robert to come up with something when you needed him.  I am sure that is available on line along with Part I, which I presume was in the previous newsletter.  If you have not seen this yet, I believe it will be worth while for you to take a look. Am not sure I can meet the two week target for Parnassus.  For one thing, I thought I had all three but I could only find Return from Parnassus on my shelves.  Perhaps these are also available on line? Am still preparing for the Conference.  As usual, these projects always become larger than they seem at the outset. 

And so there I was, looking forward delightedly at last to meeting Tom in person at the Conference. But here I turn to Dr. Johnson, who says it all so much better than I can [Life of Edmund Smith: ]!
Of Gilbert Walmsley, thus presented to my mind, let me indulge myself in the remembrance. I knew him very early: he was one of the first friends that literature procured me, and I hope that, at least, my gratitude made me worthy of his notice.
He was of an advanced age, and I was only not a boy; yet he never received my notions with contempt. He was a whig, with all the virulence and malevolence of his party; yet difference of opinion did not keep us apart. I honoured him, and he endured me.He had mingled with the gay world, without exemption from its vices or its follies, but had never neglected the cultivation of his mind; his belief of revelation was unshaken; his learning preserved his principles; he grew first regular, and then pious.His studies had been so various, that I am not able to name a man of equal knowledge. His acquaintance with books was great: and what he did not immediately know, he could, at least, tell where to find. Such was his amplitude of learning, and such his copiousness of communication, that it may be doubted whether a day now passes in which I have not some advantage from his friendship.At this man's table I enjoyed many cheerful and instructive hours, with companions such as are not often found; with one who has lengthened, and one who has gladdened life; with Dr. James, whose skill in physick will be long remembered; and with David Garrick, whom I hoped to have gratified with this character of our common friend; but what are the hopes of man! I am disappointed by that stroke of death, which has eclipsed the gaiety of nations, and impoverished the publick stock of harmless pleasure.
Heward Wilkinson (Oct. 3, 2011)



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