Four Thoughts about Roy

Contributed By Warren Leon


I’ve learned so much from reading all the entries here, but it’s also reinforced what we all already knew—Roy was a unique, wonderful person who enriched the lives of many hundreds of people through friendship and personal contact, as well as hundreds of thousands of people through his work. I want to add in four ideas:

1. ROY WAS A LIFELONG FRIEND. Because so many of his friendships started with collaborative work projects, it would be easy to assume that his friendships required work relationships. But instead, Roy maintained close friendships with individuals he first met in elementary school, junior high, high school, college, his time in England, and elsewhere. I don’t know anyone else who remained connected to so many earlier parts of his or her life. When you became a friend with Roy, he became your friend for life. He was able to do this because of his tremendous energy, his generosity, and his sincere interest in other people, their experiences, and their ideas.

2. ROY KNEW HOW TO HAVE FUN. Yes, he worked long hours and may not have relaxed as much as most people, but he also knew how to have fun away from work. He loved movies and he was always interested in trying new experiences. During graduate school, when he was writing about working class leisure, a group of us decided to expand our leisure-time horizons and try out various modern recreational pursuits we hadn’t previously tried, or hadn’t done since childhood. We rode the largest wooden roller coaster in Massachusetts, played skee ball, went candlepin bowling, watched harness racing, attended professional wrestling matches, bet on jai alai, and more. Roy was open to a wide range of experience and got enjoyment from all of it, never looking down on any of it.

3. ROY TRIED TO SQUEEZE THE MOST OUT OF A DAY. As many people have written, Roy was well known for multi-tasking in order to accomplish more than the rest of us could in a given hour or day. When he was in graduate school, he tried a unique strategy in order to get more done. For a time when he was working on his dissertation, he had no teaching or other tasks that had to be done at a set time, so either consciously or unconsciously he began living on a 26-hour-a-day schedule. Every day he would work a couple of hours later and stay up a couple of hours later. On Monday, he might go to sleep at 1 and get up at 8. Then on Tuesday, he would go to sleep at 3 and get up at 10, and so on. Those of us in the apartment got used to seeing Roy eat breakfast at all hours of the day and night.

4. ROY WAS PART OF A STRONG PARTNERSHIP. Roy and Deborah made a great team. They complemented each other so well and brought out the best in each other. It was nice to watch them interact with each other. To those of us on the outside, they had a strong identity as a couple while giving each other room to have their individual interests and express their individual unique personalities. When visiting them, one would have three good experiences—one with Roy, one with Deborah, and one with the two of them together.

Roy was a great person and a great friend. As so many other people have observed, he made a significant difference in my life. He taught me important skills and lessons, he helped me succeed professionally, he brought me joy, and he was always there to help when I needed him.