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February 23, 2008

Robert Legault
Posted by Teresa at 03:18 PM *

I am stunned by the news that Robert Legault died of a coronary this past week. We just heard about it from Valeria Susanina, who wrote:

Robert Legault’s sister Jeanne called me and I just spoke to her. Robert evidently had a coronary sometime during the past week and passed away. … She’s trying to get ahold of the friends she knows but she mostly just has first names.
I don’t know whether Jeanne Legault wants her phone number or e-mail address given out. I’ve left a message with her.

Some of you may have known him as readwrite on Live Journal. [Update: Papersky has posted a list of links to some of his LJ posts she liked best.]

Robert was my good friend. I’ve known him since I lived in Seattle. He was also my right hand when I was Managing Editor at Tor, and succeeded me in that position. He was kind and grumpy and generous and one of the world’s great nitpickers, and there’s no one I trusted more with a text.

There are so many stories I could tell about Robert, but right now I feel like they’re all written on potsherds.

When further information comes in, I’ll add it to this post.

UPDATE:

I’ve heard from Jeanne Legault. Robert died at home. He had one of those very fast coronaries and was gone before he hit the floor.

Jeanne and his friend Terry realized something was wrong when they didn’t hear from him—Robert always stayed in touch, and was prompt about returning phone calls. They had another friend who’s local try the apartment, and when he got no answer, they filed a Missing Person report. A police detective broke in and found the body.

She said she’d keep me informed. In the meantime, does anyone here know Mary Lou Currier? She’s another good friend of Robert’s, and Jeanne doesn’t know how to contact her. Any help will be appreciated. [Update: Ellie Lang has contacted Mary Lou Currier. Thank you, Ellie.]

UPDATE: Ellen Datlow has posted a wonderful Flickr set of pictures of Robert from the last few years.

Comments on Robert Legault:
#1 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 03:49 PM:

Greatest sympathy.

#2 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 03:50 PM:

When Patrick IM'ed me with the news, I was stunned. I am still stunned.

Robert was prickly and funny, and there are few people I'd rather have copyedit one of my books. He was, as you say, the best nit-picker ever. He'll be sorely missed.

#3 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 03:50 PM:

My condolences to everyone who's touched by his loss.

#4 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 04:02 PM:

Didn't he used to come to Fanoclasts when they were at Lise's? If he's that Robert, then I knew him and liked him. One of the most fun people to argue with; it was pleasant because he didn't take it personally and spoke in terms that made it easy not to take his comments that way.

If not, my condolences to you and all who did know him.

#5 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 04:05 PM:

My condolences.

He was the Robert L. who posted here occasionally, right?

#6 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 04:05 PM:

Xopher: Yes, same guy.

Like Teresa, I'm totally stunned. We've known Robert absolutely forever.

#7 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 04:07 PM:

Mary Aileen, #5: Yes, he posted here as "Robert L".

#8 ::: John D. Berry ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 04:08 PM:

This is appalling news. I can hear his grumbly voice right now, and find it hard to imagine that the next time I'm in a New York sf gathering I won't run into him.

#9 ::: Eileen Gunn ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 04:12 PM:

I am so sorry to hear that. He was a wonderful guy and many people across several communities will mourn him and miss him. I know I will.

#10 ::: Rose Fox ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 04:17 PM:

Oh, how awful. He's always been so kind to me, and I enjoyed his company tremendously.

Thank you for posting this. I'll help spread the word.

#11 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 04:18 PM:

This is sad, unexpected, and comes sooner than one would hope. I never knew Robert well, but I always liked what I knew.

One of the stories that I hope Teresa will tell in more detail is how Robert volunteered to copy-edit Brett Easton Ellis's American Psycho, with the consequence, among other things, of one of Teresa's finer essays.

#12 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 04:19 PM:

My condolences to all those touched by his loss.

#13 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 04:25 PM:

Oh, I'm so sorry. My condolences...


#14 ::: Liz Gorinsky ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 04:32 PM:

I'm not even close to being able to process this. I was still getting to know Robert socially, but after many great recommendations, I requested him as the copyeditor on a significant percentage of my books with Tor. It was always a pleasure to see what he came back with. My condolences to those who've had longer with him than I did.

#15 ::: sdn ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 04:36 PM:

oh my god.

#16 ::: Pamela Dean ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 04:37 PM:

What a loss for all of us. My sympathy to all of you who knew him.

P.

#17 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 04:38 PM:

I'm flummoxed! And very sad.

My deepest condolences to his friends and family.

#18 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 04:41 PM:

I'm sorry for your loss.

#19 ::: Alyssa Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 05:03 PM:

Oh my god!

He was my roommate last Readercon and I was looking forward to going again with him this year.

My deepest sympathies to his family.

#20 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 05:03 PM:

I'm sorry.

#21 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 05:05 PM:

That's sad news indeed. I had the pleasure of working alongside Robert a few times: he was a nice guy and damned good at what he did.

My heart goes out to those who will feel his absence.

#23 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 05:08 PM:

My condolences to his family and friends. A sudden loss is so devastating to those who knew him.

#24 ::: Jim Freund ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 05:12 PM:

omigod. I just saw a rose for Robert on sff.net, but no further info there yet. In shock I came here hoping for error, but alas, no. Condolences and shared sadness to all.

#25 ::: Ed Gaillard ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 05:13 PM:

I am so sorry to hear this. I knew Robert only slightly, but he was a heck of a good guy. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

#26 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 05:16 PM:

Would everyone just STOP DYING? Just for a little while?

I believe I first met Robert at the first Fanoclasts meeting we attended, probably in 1993. Toni Weiskopf had with her a bag of recent Baen releases, and Robert opened up one and found a typo on the first page he examined--"Not one I worked on", he said. He managed to do this in a way that made Toni amused rather than furious, a one of his great traits.

He will, of course, be received in the western lands as one of the most admirable of the legion of F*rb*r-bearers. I just wish he had had a lot longer in the mortal realm.

#27 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 05:25 PM:

Beth, I've been trying to remember which of your authors used some equations that Robert thought were dodgy. This was shortly after he started working at Tor. Robert copied that bit of the manuscript, took it home with him that night, and came back with a long abstruse handwritten mathematical analysis which (IIRC) demonstrated that the author had misstated whatever-it-was, and suggested a more accurate version.

He was meticulously accurate and knowledgeable about all the subjects that interested him: a very long list. He was also a fearless if irritable urban bicyclist, a fair rock guitarist, and a decent cook when he felt like it.

The word for world is word. I didn't feel this lost when Terry Carr died. When Robert and I worked together, it felt like we were jointly responsible for the English language, and we never gave each other an inch. (If either of us had, the other would have been gravely offended.) We agreed that he was a hair better at proofreading and I was a hair better at copy editing. We never could agree on whether an American who used acknowledgement was exercising a personal preference or making an error.

I doubt it would be possible to come up with a comprehensive list of the books which passed through his hands and were the better for it.

#28 ::: Jack Womack ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 05:31 PM:

Valeria, Lilly and I have lost one of our dearest friends, and I've lost one of my closest ones. There was nobody better.

#29 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 05:32 PM:

I do recall that, but not the book. That was a long time ago.

#30 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 05:48 PM:

A good sense of the breadth of Robert's editorial work can be had by going to Amazon and searching on his name. (Be sure to enclose it in double quotes.) Discarding the couple of hits for a Canadian marketing professional and a harmonica player of the same name, what you get--via the fact that searches on Amazon include the interior text of books, if their publishers participate in the "Search Inside This Book" program--is a wide-ranging couple of dozen books in which the authors credited and/or thanked Robert for his copyeditorial or proofreading services.

The books include Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer; The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero by William Kalush and Larry Sloman; Apollo's Fire: A Day on Earth in Nature and Imagination by Michael Sims; James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice Sheldon by Julie Phillips; Birth of the Cool: Beat, Bebop, and the American Avant Garde by Lewis MacAdams; Martin Scorcese Presents the Blues: A Musical Journey by Peter Guralnick, Robert Santelli, and Christopher John Farley; The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition by Nathan Brackett and Christian Hoard; and Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language by Ilan Stavans. Also turning up in the Amazon search: some Spanish art books and graphic novels for which Robert did the English translation. Robert spoke good enough Spanish to have, on several occasions, lived in Spain for months at a time, where he worked as (among other things) a building super, thus--in Teresa's observation--helping maintain parity in the universe.

#31 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 05:49 PM:

No it wasn't. I can still remember where I was standing when he showed it to me, and the small neat handwriting on his page of proofs. I may have a shaky grasp of space and time, but I don't forget texts.

#32 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 05:53 PM:

And if Laurence Sterne were still around, he'd have given Robert a namecheck for his heroic efforts on behalf of the Modern Library Classics edition of Tristram Shandy.

#33 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 05:58 PM:

Oh damn. My knowledge of him was limited to one dinner after KGB and LJ, and STILL I went OH NO when I read the news. That's somebody who can make himself large, noticeable and likeable with very little contact.
I am so sorry for all the people that will miss him. :-(

#34 ::: Bob W. ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 06:03 PM:

Truly sad news. I did not get to know Robert well; I found that his prickliness and my insecurity were not a good match. I liked and admired him based on his public writing and speech, and had hoped that I might eventually get to know him, and that getting to know him would be worth persisting at. Now that the chance is gone, I wish I'd started in on persisting at it some time ago.

My condolences to those of you who will miss him more to the degree that they knew him better.

#35 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 06:04 PM:

Condolences.

#36 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 06:25 PM:

> I feel like they’re all written on potsherds.

I could feel that over here.
You have my deepest sympathies.

#37 ::: Zeke ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 06:31 PM:

My condolences to his friends and loved ones.

#38 ::: Jeanne Legault ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 06:35 PM:

Thank you Theresa, for letting me know about this site. I am Robert's sister, Jeanne, and I loved him very very much. He was the best brother a girl could ever have. I am utterly devastated - he was the only family I had left, and we were very close. I find it very comforting to read folk's remembrances of him, and if anyone would like to contact me, I do plan to fly to New York and hold a memorial service for him. Please send me your email address so that I can let you know the details as soon as I can pull myself together enough to make them. My email address is jeannelegault@aol.com
Thank you so much for your kind words...

#39 ::: Kayjayoh ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 06:38 PM:

.

His comments were always intelligent and often quite droll. My sympathies to all who knew him.

#40 ::: Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 07:15 PM:

I didn't know Robert well, but I enjoyed hearing him talk from time to time at East Coast cons. I'm sorry to hear this news.

#41 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 07:16 PM:

In broken meter:

Ave atque vale, Frater
If not for this man, then the next

I didn't know him, save through friends
Whose grief alone our measure makes

I feel as though I'm oil on water
Brilliant, shining, fading, gone

Too soon will I be dead and done
Too few will know I ever was

Too many will (I hope) be saddened
To see me go, as he has gone.

++++

Nothing to say really. My sympathies to all who knew him. I am reminded that I'm not getting any younger, and neither are my friends.

Teresa, the stab at verse is abi's fault, and your inspiration, We never could agree on whether an American who used acknowledgement was exercising a personal preference or making an error. made me chuckle, and said more about him than anything more elaborate could

Should I ever find myself submitting something to you, be assured it is a preference on my part, even if I be in error.

#42 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 07:24 PM:

My sincere condolences.

#43 ::: Deanna Hoak ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 07:31 PM:

My god, I'm just stunned. Robert was my very favorite person to talk copyediting with, and I considered him a friend, as well. He was a good guy in so many ways, and it's a shock to lose him.

#44 ::: Pat Cadigan ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 07:32 PM:

I miss him a lot already. He was one of my favourite people. I am at a loss for words.

#45 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 07:38 PM:

I am in shock, and in tears.

#46 ::: Velma ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 07:44 PM:

We just came home, and got the news. I didn't know him as well as Soren and others did, but I knew him well enough to like and respect him deeply, and to look forward to his presence at gatherings. My condolences to Jeanne and everyone else who has lost his lucidity.

(Damn, damn, damn.)

#47 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 07:46 PM:

Terry, I was the one who thought it was a preference. Robert thought it was only a preference if you were British. If you were an American, it was an error.

We usually agreed on the fine points. For instance, an author could use gray or grey, but not both. However, if they were talking about the Confederacy, it had to be gray, not grey.

Here's an example of us disagreeing over a fine point: Robert held that vermillion and supercede were non-preferred forms, and that they'd only been included in certain dictionaries because they're such chronic misspellings. I held that they were objectively wrong, and that their inclusion in certain dictionaries was blatant pandering to erroneous popular opinion.

Difference this made in the finished product: none.

#48 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 07:46 PM:

Damn. I never had the chance to know him, but I liked him. My mental picture of him is probably fifteen years old. He's smiling in it, so it's a good one.

#49 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 07:47 PM:

Thank you for the call, Teresa. I'm stunned. As I said on the phone, I can't imagine Robert permitting himself to be bossed around by Death--"No, gimme a coupla minutes, I've gotta get this copyedit done."

I was Teresa's assistant and the third arm of the Managing Editorial triumvirate at Tor when Robert was the Assistant Man Ed. He was everything that's been said: generous and grumpy and devoted to The Word. And whenever stories of adventures were told, Robert always seemed to have done more, been more places, dealt with worse manuscripts than anyone else in the room. That was probably because he had. It doesn't seem possible that he's gone.

#50 ::: Ellen Datlow ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 07:57 PM:

Damn damn damn. I just found out a short time ago. Robert was a good guy and a good friend. I'll miss him.

#51 ::: Constance Ash ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 08:04 PM:

I'm in shock. I wouldn't have known this happened except that sff.net put up his name with a rose.

He was one of the most kind, generous and compassionate people I've ever met and spent time with. He was one of those out of the sf/f community that hung as happily with my husband as with me, and my husband enjoyed hanging with him.

Damn, damn, damn.

Love, C.

#52 ::: Merav ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 08:09 PM:

Oh no.

Robert was one of those people on the edges of my world, I never would have known him if Teresa hadn't introduced us.

Thank you Teresa for bringing him into my life, however briefly.

#53 ::: Deanna Hoak ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 08:10 PM:

I posted a somewhat more recent picture of Robert to my blog, Will, if you'd like to see it. He's smiling there, too.

Damn, I can't believe he's gone.

#54 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 08:12 PM:

Word fame dies not, for one who well achieves it.

Condolences to all who knew him.

#55 ::: Nick Mamatas ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 08:38 PM:

I met him at Readercon in '06. Fun guy. Condolences.

#56 ::: Gordon Van Gelder ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 08:46 PM:

When I lived with Robert in '89, there was a store across the street where the alarm was always going off . . . so frequently that Robert had saved the phone number of the store's owner. One night I was awakened at three in the morning by Robert berating the guy in Spanish. The next morning, he told me he was very pleased that he had remembered to use the subjunctive while giving the guy what-fer.

Which is to say that I'm as shocked and saddened as everyone else here.

Teresa, will you post any funeral info here? I'd rather not burden Jeanne with having to answer dozens of emails right now.

---Gordon V.G.

#57 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 08:47 PM:

Damn, I just read back the Robert L comments...one of ML's more enjoyable commenters too.

Dammit.

#58 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 08:58 PM:

I met him a couple of times, and he was always interesting and funny. I guess I didn't do anything to qualify for the grumpy.

I never learn. The last time I was in New York City, I had a spare day, and he had said days before that if I had some spare time, I should give him a call and we'd meet up. I didn't call. Figured another time would be just as good. I never learn.

#59 ::: Jeanne Legault ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 09:24 PM:

Jeanne here. I will definitely post the information on the memorial service here - and please don't worry about "burdening me with emails" because I really feel a need to communicate with Bob's friends right now - it's a way of trying to keep him alive for me. I love reading the stories about him, and the comments. Believe me, as his sister, no one knew his quirks better than I did, and Bob (as I still call him even though he changed to Robert years ago!) could be one of the most exasperating people on earth! But he was also the kindest, most compassionate, sensitive, intelligent, and caring person I ever knew. It's hard for me to imagine anyone having a better brother than he was and I just don't know what I'm going to do without him. I welcome all communications and remembrances and hope people will share their stories and memories of Bob with me....there are just so many of them!

#60 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 09:28 PM:

I only had the opportunity to "meet" with Robert through LJ and here at ML.

My condolences to all.

#61 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 09:32 PM:

Jeanne, our sympathies are with you even though I never met Robert (I don't think... except maybe online).

and much sympathy to his friends and co-workers.

I am having flashbacks. We had the same thing happen with a dear friend about this time last year.

I wish it would stop but I fear at our general average age, it won't. dammit.

Blessings all.

#62 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 09:39 PM:

It felt like we were jointly responsible for the English language, and we never gave each other an inch. (If either of us had, the other would have been gravely offended.)

that's a fine thing to be remembered by.

#63 ::: Richard Klin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 09:42 PM:

Robert made the single greatest proofreading correction of all time: A character in a novel was stirring his McDonald's cup of coffee with the WRONG COLORED SWIZZLE STICK. And Robert caught the error.

To say I'm shocked by this news is an understatement. He'll be very missed.

#64 ::: Swordsmith ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 09:46 PM:

I got to know him my first year as an editor, when he and Nancy Hanger got drawn into a giant bear of an annotated edition of Dracula, which he naturally made significantly better for his contribution. He knew everything, more-or-less, and he was opinionated and funny about all of those things. We only worked on a few projects together since that time, but there were many conversations and catch-ups at conventions and SFWA gatherings. Many, but never enough.

#65 ::: Michael R. Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 09:56 PM:

My condolences to all who are touched by his absence.

#66 ::: Swordsmith ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 10:00 PM:

In addition to whatever services are being held, I've asked Nuance if she can add a tribute at Lunacon. She's just about finalized the grid, so anyone who would like to be on it (or not scheduled opposite it) should probably drop her an email right away.

#67 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 10:01 PM:

Richard Klin: Was this before, or after, they stopped having yellow and white; for just white (which was before they stopped having the really cute spoons)?

#68 ::: Nina A ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 10:01 PM:

My condolences to everyone.

#69 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 10:20 PM:

I'm so sorry.

Dona nobis pacem.

#70 ::: LMB MacAlister ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 10:21 PM:

My partner died in exactly the same way. After I got over the shock, which took a few weeks, I realized that Death had offered him something so strong, so comforting, that he went for it immediately. As a sad survivor, of someone for whom I only wanted the best, how could I argue with such (unexpected) commitment? And I know that he's arranged, in his usual style, a heck of a welcome, when my time comes.

My sympathies to all who mourn Robert Legault, and assurances to all who will go after him. Know his passing was without pain, fear, or hesitation.

#71 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 10:27 PM:

I read about this several times at the recent end of my flist before I got here. I only knew him online -- here and LJ -- but thought he was an interesting person.

My sympathy to all who knew and loved him.

#72 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 10:30 PM:

Dang. I only met him a few times, but he was a really nice (crusty, erudite, really really smart, kinda courtly) guy. Condolences to Jeanne and to everybody who knew him well, worked with him, and for whom he was one of the natural features of the world. It feels like part of the landscape is suddenly gone for some of the people around me who knew him well.

I expect Mike has already welcomed him to the party, and they're probably catching up on stuff.

#73 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 10:47 PM:

Oh, man.

I mostly knew him online, and I'm going to miss him here and on lj.

As inadequate a word as it is, condolences.

#74 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 10:48 PM:

News of his death is shockingly unpleasant. He doesn't seem old enough for that.

#75 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 10:56 PM:

My condolences...I'm so sorry.

#76 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 10:59 PM:

I had a sudden recollection, this afternoon, of Robert meeting Julie (my older daughter) for the first time. She was about a month old, and I'd brought her in to Tor for show and tell, but had been drawn into some sort of meeting down the hall, and left the baby asleep in her carrier, on Maria's desk (Maria was my maternity-leave replacement, and wound up taking the whole place over). I came back in to find Robert eye to eye with Julie, inspecting her without comment. When he realized I was there he straightened up immediately and said, rather defensively, that he'd just been looking for something.

When I passed him in the hall later, on my way out, he said offhandedly, "You do good work."

Softie.

#77 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 11:00 PM:

My sympathies to all on this loss.

I see his blog and a picture have already been linked upthread. Here's a link to his Making Light comments. (This might not be all of them if he signed in more than one way, but it's a bunch.)

#78 ::: Geri Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 11:07 PM:

I'm shocked. Many thanks to all for the posts here. I wish I'd known him better.

Sympathy, Jeanne, P&T, et al. Sympathy.

#79 ::: Ellen Datlow ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 11:12 PM:

I've collected all the digital photos I took of him over the past few years (since I've had a digital camera) here:
http://tinyurl.com/28vncr

#80 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 11:34 PM:

I think it may have been Robert who explained to me how the "hair of the dog" hangover cure works. If so, I owe him a huge debt of gratitude, not because I've used it (I'm a nondrinker and was before he explained), but because that explanation got me thinking in new ways about the connections between biological phenomena and people's physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing.

In addition...well, before that, I thought the hair of the dog was just an alcoholic's excuse to start another binge (I was such a kind, sympathetic person back then). After, I started treating everything as if it might have some basis in fact, wondering what the basis was, and speculating even for things with NO basis in fact what the world would be like if they were true. I've written some hilarious flights of fancy as a result.

#81 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 11:35 PM:

Madeline, that was an excellent sharing! What a good spirit. what a loss. whimper.

#82 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2008, 11:58 PM:

I met Robert several times on various visits to the US and liked him a lot. He was good company, erudite and witty, and I don't think I ever heard him raise his voice. My condolences to his family and all his friends.

#83 ::: Martha Schwartz ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 12:04 AM:

I'm dismayed, horrified, and feel the universe has shaken. I knew Robert for decades as a freelancer proofreader/copyeditor who I hired regularly. Now who will proofread all the books I knew Robert would not only take on gladly but also work on with superb intelligence? I will miss our conversations. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

#84 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 12:57 AM:

I'm shocked, and saddened.
I was thinking of him earlier today, while in New England Mobile Book Fair. Little did I know that he had passed on.

#85 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 01:03 AM:

I only knew Robert through his LiveJournal but I'm saddened by his death. His posts were interesting and his comments, like this one, always seemed to be just right.

My condolences to everyone who knew and loved him.

#86 ::: Fiendish Writer ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 01:43 AM:

Too sudden, too soon, too sad.

*grieves quietly*

#87 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 02:30 AM:

Like some others, I didn't know him except online, for his posts here and on LJ (I would see his name readwrite occasionally in mutual friends' comments threads). Condolences to his friends and family.

#88 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 05:12 AM:

To those who knew him: May you be comforted.

#89 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 07:11 AM:

What terrible news to wake up to. I was always delighted to see him, he was one of those few people I felt naturally at home with. Now I can't look forward to having lunch with him at conventions, and I'll miss him in comment threads.

God damn it.

#90 ::: janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 08:46 AM:

Damn, damn, damn--a good man. A good bookman. Witty, funny, caring. The Big Bear.

Damn.

Jane

#91 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 09:06 AM:

I adored his LJ. And I treasured his comments on mine. I'd always hoped I might have qualified for one of his copyedits one day.

As well as being a great guy and a world class copyeditor, he was also a terrific writer -- just look back at any of his substantive posts on his journal. He'd write about walking down the street and finding a record or helping someone clear their apartment and it would evoke the whole context of time and place and complexity.

I hardly knew him, but the world feels emptier without him.

#92 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 10:05 AM:

I was always amazed at the frequency in which I'd randomly run into him on the street. A huge city, and I keep bumping into this guy, and enjoying seeing him each time it happened. It's sad to think that won't happen again.

He was always friendly to me. He'll be missed.

#93 ::: Will A. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 10:30 AM:

Condolences to everyone who will ever notice the Robert-shaped hole in the world. Hugs.

#94 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 11:07 AM:

I can't claim to have known him well, but there were dinners and hanging-out-at-cons enlivened by his presence (in what would be a humdrum murder mystery were it to be written, he volunteered the toadstools, which grew in his neighborhood).

Courtly, yes.

My condolences, sympathy, and sorrow.

#95 ::: Elric ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 11:07 AM:

We first met Robert about sixteen years ago, and have enjoyed his company ever since. He's been a regular houseguest in our part of New Hampshire, and was one of those rare people who had an open invitation to drop by whenever he might feel like it because his company was always welcome. Aside from our shared professional interests, he was just excellent company.

Those who know him will remember his smile whenever a bastardized reference to The Big Lebowski was made, and can see his response to this:

Robert may have left the building, but The Dude abides.

#96 ::: Lucy Huntzinger ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 11:52 AM:

I am deeply grieved to lose a friend of thirty years standing, and I wish I could attend a memorial service for him in person. Since I can't, it's comforting to see so many people here sharing their memories. I'll be going through my photographs today and remembering all the ways in which our lives intertwined.

#97 ::: Heather Wood ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 11:54 AM:

When Robert first came to work for Tor, it turned out that P&T and I all knew him from Washington - them from state, me from DC. In my days as a restaurant critic, Robert was one of my favorite escorts. One time I had to go to a single-malt tasting dinner. I don't drink whisky. Robert was feeling flu-ish, but came anyway, and after polishing off his samples and mine, declared that he felt much better. I'll miss him.

#98 ::: David Louis Edelman ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 12:04 PM:

I met Robert at Readercon 2006 (through my copy editor, Deanna Hoak) and thought he was an extremely nice guy. Bumped into him at a number of cons thereafter and always, always got a smile on my face seeing him.

At the big group dinner after my reading at the KGB Bar last year, Robert sat next to my wife. I didn't hear a peep out of her the entire night, she was so engrossed in conversation with him. Afterwards I remember walking back to our hotel talking with her about what a gentle soul Robert is. Was.

Crap. Thanks, Death. Thanks a frickin' lot.

#99 ::: Ellen Kushner ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 12:15 PM:

Delia told me this morning, and I'm shocked, like everyone. He was so much a part of our world of New York & SF & publishing - it's like looking out the window one day and finding that a building has fallen. Just scrolling down reading everyone else's reactions & memories genuinely does help. Thank you, TNH, for giving us all a space to react and respond and commemorate. And my deepest sympathies to Jeanne and his many close friends.

#100 ::: Richard Factor ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 12:23 PM:

Something you probably don't know about Robert: He was an excellent driver! We drove to a con some years ago and split the driving. Don't ask me why I noticed, but he handled the car with surprising precision. I mentioned it to him and he told me that one of his previous occupations was taxi driver. Looks like that precision was a characteristic of his copy editing as well.

I always enjoyed hanging out with Robert (not Bob). I would mostly see him at parties, including some of mine. On one occasion we "temporarily" traded my original Butterfly Kid for his John W. Campbell letters. It was a running joke between us - every time he came out I would show him his book to prove it remained extant and available, (and that I still hadn't read it).

Robert was indeed a "fun guy," at least in the sense that this blog would define fun! He also was unique in that all of his idiosyncrasies were endearing ones. I'm so sorry to hear the news; sympathy to all.

#101 ::: Tony Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 01:08 PM:

A few memories... Robert hanging out in our apartment, playing my guitar, singing those 50s and 60s rock songs he loved so much -- to more than one late-night audience. Robert once showed me his favorite pencil sharpener, his work sharpener -- a yellow one with some sort of cartoon on it. He claimed that it was the best he'd ever had and guarded it assiduously. Robert once told me that, when he had time, his favorite method of proof-reading was to read a book word-by-word BACKWARDS. Robert's small apartment, stacked high with books, books, books. Books in every nook and cranny. A particular title occurred to him. He found it immediately, dug it out, showed it to me.

#102 ::: Gursky ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 01:39 PM:

So sorry to hear it. I'd seen him and heard of him, but hadn't had the chance to meet him. Can we please declare a moratorium on deaths of people I admire?

#103 ::: Katya Pendill ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 03:04 PM:

Jack told me this AM--we're on honeymoon and the telecoms/internet quite wonky here so JUST found out. We cannot believe it and it's truly an emotional overload -- but oh boy rum will help....

I am trying to locate MaryLou Currier for Jeanne, and will e-mail offline.

Reading all of this is so heartening--I am glad we saw DOA with Legs at the last video night!

xx

#104 ::: Cheri L ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 03:58 PM:

I guess the first memory of Robert that came to mind when I heard this sad news was a vision of him entering the cafe in Tony's movie "American Bohemian," backlit in the night, ominous. A scary Daddy. But we all laughed! Robert's presence was nothing like that. His silhouette and shadow were his only intimidating properties.

My condolences to everyone suffering his passing.

#105 ::: Gillian Spraggs ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 04:22 PM:

I knew Robert only through LiveJournal, but I learned to look forward to his rare posts and his occasional comments on my journal. A man with a sharp mind and a wryly humorous outlook on life; a prodigious reader, who loved literature: that was Robert as I came to know him. I shall miss him. His friends and family, of course, will miss him far more deeply. My sympathy to them for their loss.

#106 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 04:26 PM:

Sympathies, folks.

"Growing old will be a series of goodbyes..."

#107 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 05:47 PM:
"Growing old will be a series of goodbyes..."

If that's meant to be a comforting thought right now, it's not.

#108 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 07:27 PM:

My sympathies and condolences to all those who have obviously lost a treasured friend and colleague.

#109 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 07:38 PM:

Scraps 107: I took it as more of a "Damn, this sucks" thought.

#110 ::: India ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 08:43 PM:

Oh, I am sorry to hear this. I knew Robert only from exchanging a few e-mails about freelance work back in 2004, but just in that brief volley I found him funny and charming, and I was glad to have met him. My condolences to his friends and family.

#111 ::: Linda Volin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 09:11 PM:

I feel extremely sad about the loss of a very special person, my cousin, Robert Legault. I feel such sadness for his loving sister,Jeanne.
I remember when Bobby was an adorable little boy in Washington, D.C. I recall how proud his grandmother (my great aunt) was as he revealed his great intelligence. He gave her so much pleasure and she always shared it with me. She spoke of his college days and beyond.
A few years ago when I spoke to Robert's mother, Louise, I mentioned that my daughter,Sharan, loved science fiction and attended conferences. She told me that Robert also attended science fiction conferences. I asked Sharan, if she knew him. She knew him very well. Was she excited when I told her that her friend was her cousin! But now we only have memories of Robert and will really miss having him in our life.

#112 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 09:20 PM:

Condolences to those who mourn, and rest for the one who is gone.

#113 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 09:30 PM:

I was not fortunate enough to have known him, but my deepest sympathies go out to all those who did. There are few enough truly special people in the world that the loss of one, whether personally known or not, is still keenly felt by us all. )-:

#114 ::: Heather Wood ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 09:42 PM:

IMHO, we will remember Robert best by continuing to fight for the English language he loved so much. I just noticed a grammatical error in my previous post: I used "me" where I should have used "I."

Robert would have spotted it immediately.

#115 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2008, 10:31 PM:

Xopher, #109: "I took it as more of a 'Damn, this sucks' thought."

Just so. I'm sorry, Scraps.

#116 ::: Terry Downs ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 04:29 AM:

When I was nine years old, at school, and waiting for the school bus to take me home one afternoon, an eight-year old kid I'd met but barely knew came up to me and said : "What if the entire purpose of the human race, the reason the human race came into existence and has evolved into its current state, was to go to the moon so that aliens trapped there on their voyage elsewhere, and living in a different time frame from ours, could retrieve a bit of metal from our spacecraft, to repair theirs ?"
That kid was Bob Legault, and for over 50 years he never ceased to amaze me with his luminous intelligence, his breath-taking intellectual curiosity, his kindness, his wit, and his wisdom.
He is utterly irreplaceable.

#117 ::: Sally Eckhoff ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 08:35 AM:

I only knew Legs as a sweet, eternally interested, affectionate friend. What a treat it was to see him whenever our paths crossed. This is so terribly sad. I hope his family can take some comfort in how many people adored him.

#118 ::: Katya Pendill ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 08:37 AM:

Re #116--what a great memory and so very Robert.

Thanks for sharing that Terry!

#119 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 09:49 AM:

#116: What a perfect Legault memory!

#120 ::: meryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 10:05 AM:

I only knew Robert casually, as he belonged to my cabal of copyeditors. I loved it when he would come in to pick up a job in person. He'd settle in on my spare office chair and we'd happily natter away a nice chunk of the afternoon. It was only on his last visit that I found out we shared a common love of really appalling music.

My most profound sympathies go out to his friends and family.

#121 ::: David Louis Edelman ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 10:36 AM:

Terry@116: I don't think it takes anything away from Robert to mention that what he was telling you at the bus stop was the plot of Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan.

#122 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 10:42 AM:

Terry Downs (116): You're his friend Terry? He was forever talking about you. Thank you for dropping by, and for the story.

Martha (83), it's good to see you here. I felt helpless and stupid when I heard the news, then realized I didn't have current contact information for you. I figured you'd hear it through the grapevine, but it's not the same.

One of my favorite copyediting stories from Robert was about proofreading Tristram Shandy for you after someone had erroneously transmitted the wrong edition for typesetting. As I understand it, he proofed the typesetting against the preferred edition, forcing it into compliance: by his account, a massive piece of work.

I'll swap you. At one point a consulting editor who shall remain nameless (but probably isn't the first one you thought of) turned in a huge career-spanning collection by a major SF author. It wasn't just a bunch of stories. It contained all kinds of material.

What he turned in wasn't a manuscript. It was more a collection of components and instructions. For instance, some sections were tear sheets from large-format magazines. These came with notes telling Production to xerox off the pertinent text (which didn't fit onto a standard manuscript page), paste it up on 8-1/2" x 11" paper, xerox it again so it wasn't a mechanical, give it the following title heads, insert it in the main manuscript at thus-and-such point, and renumber to fit the overall sequence.

In short, it was the classic project that should have been returned to its editor with a note saying to bring it back when it was a manuscript; but it was an important book, so ... you know how that goes.

The nominal editor just did the deal, gathered the components, and delivered it as a DIY story collection kit. It was Robert who built the model--physically reconstituting pages, arranging to get missing material, doing bibliographical research to correct misinformation, establishing and systematizing quotation formats and hierarchies of subheads, creating scholarly appurtenance plus complex frontmatter and backmatter, and marking up the whole damn thing to make it orderly and consistent.

I remember him bringing in his own magazine copies of "The [Widget], the [Wadget] and Boff" when he realized that our setting copy, a later reprint, had simplified the typography and made a hash of the footnotes. He brought in his own texts for a number of the Tor Doubles. Come to think of it, the first time I got the measure of Robert as a proofreader was back at Chelsea House, when an editor had turned in a rat's nest of a chapter on Edmund Spenser (memorialized forever after at the Chelsea House Library of Literary Criticism as, "If your first footnote says Ibid., you have problems"), and Robert corrected the footnotes and bibliography out of his own library.

The best one from the Tor Doubles was when Robert figured out that a previous small-press edition of one of our titles would come out at exactly the right length once we subtracted its full-page illustrations. We ordered a copy from Other Change. When it arrived, it proved to be a beautiful signed-and-numbered limited edition with tipped-in plates. Eeeesh.

I had a length of blue satin ribbon in my desk, so I got out my X-acto knife, tied the ribbon around it in a bow, and centered it on top of the sacrificial book in the middle of Robert's desk -- the message being, "This was your idea. You cut it up."

#123 ::: Jack Womack ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 11:30 AM:

Yesterday we had a friend over for brunch who'd never met him. We alluded to him. Lilly said, out of nowhere, "his heart stopped and he died" and she went back to drawing. She doesn't fully get it, yet, of course. I was thinking about this last night and realize that the person who would most appreciate her directness is of course Robert.

Everywhere we turn in our apartment there is some sign of Robert. In the refrigerator is most of the six-pack of Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray I always kept on hand, knowing he enjoyed it. On the shelves -- many books he provided one way or the other. On our computer I've got one entire folder marked mp3s from Robert for the last time he was over, a few weeks ago, to download a batch. (I received an iPod for Xmas. He downloaded 700 tunes onto it; everything I listen to, every morning, he picked.)

In our daughter Lilly's room there are two things immediately evident that he gave her -- one a very goofy plastic toy chihuahua vaguely reminiscent of our own real one, and the other a very nice doll in pink hat and sweater that he gave to Lilly either last May or the one before, for her birthday -- I wish I could remember -- that had belonged to his mother, and he wanted her to have it. It's all I can do to keep from crying, right now.


#124 ::: Steve M. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 11:57 AM:

I'm shocked. He just helped save a huge book for me, and I had another job I thought would be perfect for him (and I thought he'd like it, too). I miss his enthusiasms. I can't believe he's gone.

#125 ::: Jean Krevor ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 03:46 PM:

I'm shocked and saddened to hear of Robert's passing. I did not know him well, but we had a nodding acquaintance, and often spoke at SF gatherings. I most remember talking with him at length on the subway after Jenna's memorial, and being struck at what a mind this man had. I certainly felt humbled, even though I'm a pretty good proofreader myself. I thought then and think now that Robert forgot more about editing and the world than most of us will ever know.

Deep condolences to his sister Jeanne, his cousins the Volins, and all who miss him. His loss diminishes us all.

#126 ::: Beth Pearson ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 04:56 PM:

I'm at Random House. Like everyone else leaving comments here, I'm stunned. Robert worked for me for at least twenty years. On nearly every job, he found some odd mistake I'm sure no one else would have caught. And he was a nice guy with cool interests. Damn. I am really sorry to hear this.

#127 ::: Terry Downs ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 05:04 PM:

122 : Hi Theresa : yes, it's me, Terry, Bob's Franco-American friend of fifty years' standing....you probably don't remember this, but we actually met once, at Bob's place on Clinton Street, and the meeting was memorable for me....you walked in to the apartment, and I was struck quite forcefully by the strand of purple hair you then sported...I thought, "Wow ! Intense ! Very Sci-Fi !" And I feel I know you, since Bob was also constantly talking about you ! I hope to see you on March 9 at his funeral service, and we can swap stories about him.

#128 ::: Sharan Volin ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 05:16 PM:

This is definitely devastating news. I first met Robert at a party at a convention when I had no idea he was related to me. I don't think I even remembered his name (I've always been lousy at remembering names of people I'd just met) but when my mother found out about him while doing genealogy research (as she said above) somehow he was the first person that came to mind, even though I had no way of knowing for sure it was him. When we went to meet my cousin it turned out that I was right! Apparently he had told people I reminded him of his sister too before he knew we were related.

We got to know each other well while I was still in NY. He really was a great guy. He let me stay at his apartment after going to a concert nearby at least once.

I haven't seen him too often since I moved out here to Los Angeles, and the past couple of times I came to NY I never managed to make it into Manhattan so I couldn't see him. I didn't even get a chance to call him, but figured there was always next time. I don't think I'd spoken to him in over a year, although I was watching his LiveJournal. I was hoping to see him at Lunacon, and now I feel awful about not speaking to him for so long.

I guess it's just as well I hadn't gotten around to buying my flight to NY, since now I will probably skip Lunacon and just fly out for the memorial service instead.

#129 ::: Ellen Datlow ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 05:43 PM:

Sharon,
I remember him saying how cool it was that you were related to him. I and other friends of his have been lamenting that we hadn't seen him often enough in the past year--even though we all DO live in NYC.

#130 ::: Ellen Datlow ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 05:47 PM:

I mean Sharan--sorry for that.

#131 ::: helene silverman ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 05:53 PM:

I am Robert's old friend from Seattle, we worked on the Rocket and many other things together. He just finished copyediting my husband Gary Panter's giant monograph. This is crazy, and horrible. Terry, we never met I don't think, but I have always heard about you. Jeanne, so sorry, you know Robert and I were very good friends in Seattle, and had continued sporadically in NY. He was one of a kind, and that phrase was really written for him. The man who knew something about everything.

#132 ::: Julie Phillips ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 05:59 PM:

Once when I was in New York I helped Robert housesit for Jack and Valeria for a week. He was proofreading Hawthorne for the Modern Library, sitting on the couch, and he explained that his circadian rhythm was longer than normal, so that he went to bed later every night; when I arrived he was working all night and sleeping all day. I gathered that he tried to stick to the usual day-night rhythm and didn’t always succeed.

He always wanted to get the language right—any language. I found the list of Dutch words and terms that he asked me to check when he was proofreading Ian Buruma’s “Murder in Amsterdam”:
Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie [a political party]
Lijst Pim Fortuyn [his party]
verongelijktheid [feeling of being wronged]
relnicht [“screaming queen”]
Reading the list of words makes me miss him a lot, because I know he liked them. Words, in any language.

The last time I saw him was last March, at a party for “James Tiptree, Jr.” at the St. Martin’s office. (Not only did he proofread the book, he was the one who said, when I was first talking about writing it, that I should call up Gordon Van Gelder. Without Robert, maybe no book.) He and I left the Flatiron Building together, on a glorious early spring afternoon, and walked down Broadway to St. Mark’s Books, talking about I don’t know what—probably publishing or Spanish comics. We hugged goodbye—he was a good person to hug, he was so round and squeezy—and he went home to do some more work.

I really, really wish he were still around.

#133 ::: Linda Volin ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 06:39 PM:

Jean Krevor...Thank you for your condolences and your thoughts about Robert.

#134 ::: Sharan Volin ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 07:26 PM:

Ellen,

That's O.K.:)

Yeah, it's tough to stay in touch with people when things get busy, even if they are nearby. I know in my case going to school full time and working part time hasn't been helping. And I know he was always busy with his work, which made it tough to see him sometimes.

I guess something like this can make you want to get in touch with people again. In fact I just did a Google search for one friend I haven't spoken to since 2001 and I think I finally tracked him down through his company's website, and I think I found an address for another friend I haven't spoken to for even longer than that. Maybe if I stay home for Spring Break it'll give me a chance to get back in touch with a few people.

#135 ::: karrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 09:09 PM:

don't know what to say - just found out. knew robert from lotus club. haven't seen him in a couple of years but loved getting email updates and checking his blog. never knew anyone quite like him. he was an original. i'm so sad.

my condolences to his friends and family.

#136 ::: Jeanne Legault ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2008, 11:01 PM:

I'm loving everyone's stories. Julie's (#132) reminds me of one of my favorite Robert comments. After much hesitation, he had accepted a very lucrative job with a TV network, doing copy-editing, complete with benefits etc. (I think my father pressured him into it, because he was always concerned about my brother having health care coverage). After 3 days, I phoned him to see how the job was going. His response: "Ah, I don't know about this 9:00 to 5:00 thing........" The next day he quit. He also planned to write an essay titled "The Tyranny of the Larks" (Larks being the opposite of night owls). Poor Robert really couldn't keep to a "normal" schedule, could he!

#137 ::: Terry Downs ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 05:33 AM:

Jeanne and Julie (136 & 132): I can relate to this, too : I can't count the number of "nuits blanches" Bob and I spent together, raving on all night long, about every subject under the sun, and drinking gallons of tea, in New York, Paris, Seattle, Washington, D.C. and here in Burgundy...he was a veritable fount of knowledge; he knew something about everything, and he was going to tell you about it, whether you wanted to hear it or not ! As a conversationalist, he was peerless, and he and I continued our non-stop "rap" almost daily, via Internet, between New York and France until the very end....I very much regret that he never got around to writing that science fiction novel he kept threatening me with : it would have been a monster !

#138 ::: Robert Newman ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 11:49 AM:

I worked with Robert at The Rocket in Seattle. In fact, I'm the person who was responsible for changing his name from Bob to Robert. We already had two Bobs at The Rocket and only one Robert. I remember arguing with him that not only was it more practical for all of us, but the more formal name just fit his personality so much better. He finally gave in, and I think I may have been the only person who ever won an argument with him. Robert did so many great things at The Rocket. He once rode his bike all the way from Seattle to some ratty club in Tacoma to interview the Ventures. He could review any kind of record, from vintage rock to hardcore punk to bizarro. For a while he had a recurring column called My Job (or something like that) which was a brief reminisence of weird jobs he'd had (and he'd had a lot). On closing nights he would sit in the middle of the production shop, we'd keep him well-supplied with food and dope, and then whenever anyone had a factchecking or copyediting question, they'd throw it to Robert who always knew the correct answer. You'd ask, "who is the bass player in the Scorpions?" and he'd say, "would that be the earlier version of the band, or the one that's touring now?"

#139 ::: Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 01:57 PM:

We tried talking him, somewhat as a giggle, to the movie version of American Psycho for his 50th, but by the time we got to the only theater still showing it, they had canceled that night's showing for an extras-and-cast screening of Woody Allen's Small Time Crooks. So we ended up there, courtesy of management, sitting in front of the producers of the film.

He was at the "kid's table" for our wedding (many XCU shots from the table camera), so I fear the only good shot we have of him from that is talking with Don Keller, looking every bit the gentleman he was.

Augh.

#140 ::: Jim Christie ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 02:21 PM:

This is terrible news and very difficult to digest. I knew Robert while working on The Rocket in Seattle. In those days I remember him as very funny and a willing partner in creating absurdist analogies and celeb skewering, especially where their pretension was at issue. My lasting picture of him is relishing and laughing through one of these exchanges, drinking beer out of plastic cups at some weird performance or party. It's true, you couldn't win the argument, but you could manage a draw, if he liked you. This is so sad.

#141 ::: Jay Vee ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 02:50 PM:

Dear Robert,
To a real Lower East Sider of the new millennium;I will miss you. You pompous ass! Now who can I have a good argument with? All those hours we spent at the Lotus, talking about everything from music to politics. By the way, how did you have all those musicians names in your head? I mean it seemed as though you knew every member of every band that ever was. It didn't happen too often but, I would love to stump you! You played a pretty damn good guitar too!

I enjoyed eating with you, whether at my home (you did always love my cooking)or a restaurant. The conversation was always excellent!

Thank you for proof reading the letters I wrote before I sent them out. You would always find something to correct. Thank you for teaching me how to spell the word "accommodate". Oh and thanks for helping me fix my bike too.

All in all Robert, thank you for being there when I needed you. I am glad I was there for you as well. I will always be proud to refer to you as my friend.

It's an honor to have known you.

#142 ::: Karen Stroker ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 04:00 PM:

I feel sorrow at our loss. He was a dear friend, co-worker, roommate, buddy, dining companion, great listener, and a master of discourse. I loved his big appetite. Sharing a dessert was hilarious--I'd have two bites and he'd be clearing the plate. All part of his charm . . . It is hard to translate my tears into words. I hope his exit was quick and painless and that his spirit is enjoying having moved on to new vistas. He is sorely missed.
Love, Karen

#143 ::: robert ferrigno ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 06:40 PM:

I knew Bob from the old days at the Rocket in Seattle. A brilliant, maddening copyeditor who always found some error of fact or logic in my writing. I usually apologized later and he always rubbed it in. The world's collective IQ just went down a notch. He is missed.

#144 ::: mark m. ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2008, 11:22 PM:

first time robert ever left early.

#145 ::: Stephanie ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2008, 07:29 AM:

I met Bob when I was in high school; I was at Sidwell and Bob was at Landon, and there was a group of us who would hang out at various friends' houses so we could get away from our parents.

Later I would make a joke of it - "I went to the Landon Senior Prom with the man who proofread 'American Psycho'."

Bob was not only smart and funny, he played a great guitar and seemed to know almost everything, which is understandable, since he read for a living. He would come out with some piece of arcana and explain it in detail, and sometimes I would think "Bob, that's enough, OK?" but would let him go on because it was interesting and because he was such a good friend.

I will miss him forever.

Stephanie

#146 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2008, 04:12 PM:

When Patrick told me of this on Monday, I was stunned. I think it took me a couple of days to process. I feel like I "just" saw him, though it was (already) a couple of months ago at P&T's holiday open house.

Where he was in fine form, of course--I chiefly remember a long conversation in the group about ailments and illnesses we or friends and relatives currently had or recently had had. It was an oddly comforting and familiar sort of conversation--one that I find takes place only among people who like and trust one another in a certain way. The feel was partially "can you top this" and partially "what did you do to relieve the symptoms of that" and partially "it's okay because we're all still here."

And now we're not.

I regret that I will be unable to attend the memorial as that's the day of my synagogue's Purim celebration. But the next time I go to services, I'll say Kaddish for Robert.

#147 ::: bill wagner ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2008, 04:34 PM:

my deepest sympathies to all of robert's friends and family.

I remember robert's kindness in putting Gary Farber up for a period of time in a less than ideal situation. the apartment was a long and narrow set of rooms without a hallway, to get anywhere you had to walk from one room to another to get to the bathroom or kitchen area, which eliminated any sense of privacy.

#148 ::: Jeanne Legault ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2008, 10:15 PM:

I am getting so many emails asking about the service for my brother. My plan is to speak a little and then just allow anyone who cares to, to share their memories of Robert. Here are the details:


My brother's memorial service will be on Sunday
March 9 at 10:30 a.m. at the Beth Abraham Memorial Chapel 199 Bleecker Street between 6th Ave and Macdougal Street (Bob would be proud of me for remembering the "c" in Bleecker!)
Their phone # is 212-614-2300 if you need to ask them for directions.

In place of flowers, if you wish, please make a donation to

http://www.jazzfoundation.org/

Thank you everyone for your kind (and often amusing) words!
Jeanne

#149 ::: Johnny Walsh ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2008, 10:48 AM:

I always enjoyed Robert's tales of his street scores on the LES, finding someone's punk rock record collection in a Sanitation Dept. garbage can or a bunch of 'zines from the 80's early 90s in a box on the sidewalk.
I remember one time telling him I had seen the original cover art for a Robert E. Howard chapbook from 1945 on sale at the WFMU record fair and I saying how weird it was to see that in that I owned the book. He said, "Do you have the aqua cover or the green cover?" I had no idea there were variations. He did. Boy, he knew a lot of stuff.

#150 ::: Chuck Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2008, 02:36 PM:

I knew Bob at Landon, from the 7th through the 9th grades. We used to wait for the bus in the afternoon by the steps at the front of the gym. I read my first SF at his recommendation - The Dragon Masters, by Jack Vance. Today I have a copy of every Vance SF novel & collection, and one of his mysteries. Thanks for that, Bob.
I saw him last year at our 40th reunion at Landon, and we talked about books. He was vital and witty. I'm sorry to see him go...

#151 ::: Ruth Singleton ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2008, 09:56 PM:

Just heard the news this evening, and I am deeply saddened. I didn't know Robert that well, but I always enjoyed talking to him and tapping into that encyclopedic wealth of knowledge. I ran into him last summer at the "Summer of Love" exhibit at the Whitney--the last time I saw him. We talked briefly, and he told me that he had spotted his 38-year-younger self in one of the Woodstock photos. Later, when my husband and I got to that part of the exhibit, he spotted his younger self in one of the photos, too.

#152 ::: Claire Wolf Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2008, 12:28 AM:

I was so shocked and very sad when I heard. Over and over, Robert was a good friend in bad times.

Even though I hadn't seen him in quite a while, I was thinking about him just last week. Here's what it was: for maybe a few days in the mid-nineties I resurrected a favorite answering machine greeting I had used in the eighties, featuring the beginning of "Hanging on the Telephone." (Blondie, remember?) So one day I come home and hit the "play" button and hear a recording of Robert bursting out laughing. Loud, but slow, of course. "Hi," he teased, "is DEBBIE home?"

So maybe fourteen years later I'm walking down the street smiling, remembering that, and it turns out he's gone. My heart goes out to all of you who stayed close to him. What he was like was just as good as what he liked.

#153 ::: Claire Wolf Smith ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2008, 12:29 AM:

And by the way, Teresa, I remember you and Robert explaining "supercede" and "vermillion" to me, so clearly I can almost see the two words just as you wrote them on the page.

#154 ::: Michael Helberg ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 11:03 AM:

Hello my condolences to the family.My uncles name is Robert Legault. He died instantly of a massive heart attack this past Sunday at 2:00p at Swedish Hospital in Denver,CO.He was 58 years old. He will be buried today at FT. Logan Cementary.I thought it interesting how two people with the same name could pass on at almost the same time and in the same manner,maybe our lives are more interconnected then we imagine.May they both rest in peace in heaven.

#155 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 11:24 AM:

Michael Helberg @154:

My condolences on your loss. Sudden bereavements are so difficult.

May they both, indeed, rest in peace.

#156 ::: Jeanne Legault ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 11:57 PM:

Dear Michael,
I'm so sorry for your loss - if your uncle Robert was a fraction of the wonderful man that my brother Robert was, the world and you have suffered a terrible loss. My profound condolences.
Jeanne Legault

#157 ::: carmen garcia belmonte ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2008, 08:03 AM:

Lo he sabido muy tarde. Lo siento mucho, me enteré por la red.
mis condolencias a su hermana y a sus amigos.
Aunque vivo en españa siento su ausencia.

#158 ::: Carmen Garcia ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2008, 08:13 AM:

Robert fué un hombre muy bueno y un verdadero amigo. En dos ocasiones me alojó en su casa y me enseño la ciudad de Nueva York como nunca volveré a conocerla. también os conocía a muchos de vosotros... amigos de él.
A él le conocí durante los años 80, cuando vino a vivir a España. Siempre creí que alguna vez volvería por aquí, decía que le gustaría...

#159 ::: Carmen Garcia ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2008, 08:13 AM:

Robert fué un hombre muy bueno y un verdadero amigo. En dos ocasiones me alojó en su casa y me enseño la ciudad de Nueva York como nunca volveré a conocerla. también os conocía a muchos de vosotros... amigos de él.
A él le conocí durante los años 80, cuando vino a vivir a España. Siempre creí que alguna vez volvería por aquí, decía que le gustaría...

#160 ::: Terry see spam he can't translate ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2008, 11:48 PM:

But hell, it's friendly looking

#161 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2008, 12:01 AM:

It's not spam, Terry, but a remembrance of "a good man and a true friend." Fragano will be better able to translate it, I'm sure.

#162 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2008, 01:16 AM:

Welcome, Carmen Garcia! I expect some of our Spanish-speakers will be here soon to welcome you properly.

Terry, my Spanish is too weak for a proper translation, but it looks very appropriate for a memorial thread. Google sometimes sends blog-naive people to old threads, without them knowing the social dynamics. But that doesn't imply they are spammers or any other kind of net-abusers.

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