Kevin died of Covid-19 on December 12th, 2021. These are some words I shared at his memorial ceremony on June 14th, 2022.
Kevin and I met almost 40 years ago as students at Kimball Union Academy. We were both geeks, that is, socially awkward people who liked computers and cared about getting good grades. We fell in with a group of like-minded individuals and experienced a few years of gripping teenage drama amongst this crew who, though we didn’t know it at the time, would become friends for life. That group has dispersed to distant places, but several of us made it here today.
Kevin and I had a habit of writing notes to each other in class. I still have copies of some of them, and they are baffling, maze-like things in tiny handwriting that wanders all over the page. We knew what they meant, at least at the time. Our note-writing was so routine that one day when we were taking a test in Physics class, we exchanged some notes about some of the test questions. We really didn’t think much of it, but our teacher certainly did… we were both suspended for a week for cheating. I can’t say we wised up as a result of our punishment. It all seemed too absurd. But in a tribute to our 15 minutes of infamy, Kevin had the letter KUA sent to his parents framed.
He was deeply skeptical of social norms and the commonly accepted ways of doing things. So was I. He, Thad and I formed a little subgroup within the geeks: the weirdest of the weird. We questioned and analyzed anything and everything. This could sometimes be funny, and it could sometimes be abrasive. You know what I mean if you ever heard Kevin quip about using children as forced labor or hoping that someone’s cat would perish so he didn’t have to worry about his allergies. But he was also a very social person who was genuinely interested in others and in fostering connection. Over the years, he and Beth were the main social planners of our high school friend group, between them arranging and hosting most of our gatherings. Props also to Kevin’s parents, whose home we invaded on several occasions. They were very gracious.
He was an early adopter of email, instant messaging, and social media and – especially after he started working nights – spent vast amounts of time in front of a computer communicating with friends both near and far. He remained interested in new technologies and trying new things. He loved TikTok and was the only person I know to regularly use Snapchat. I signed up for it and was repeatedly baffled by his random screenshots of computer gaming sessions and photos of Dunkin Donuts coffees. I asked him once why he had sent a picture of a grocery store sandwich still in its plastic wrap – what was the point? He seemed puzzled, but eventually said that he was just sharing details of his life. I felt like a jerk for asking. And now I dearly wish he was still here to send more.
For decades Kevin tried to convince me of the genius of Doctor Who. It never worked, but he introduced me to many other TV shows, some of which became favorites of mine. We had similar interests in gaming, science fiction, British things of all kinds. He loved music and had a radio show for several years. The mixtapes he sent me during this time introduced me to a lot of new stuff. I’m sure he’d be thrilled (and maybe a little exasperated) to know that Kate Bush is finally hitting the big time after being featured in the TV show Stranger Things. He was into her long before she was cool.
The last time I saw Kevin in person was on the sad occasion of Thad’s memorial service in 2019. And then the pandemic hit. Despite the physical distance, we kept in touch via text and Facebook, and I always knew that he was there to share enthusiasm or opinions whenever either of us felt like it. He was a constant, a listening ear on the other end of the line. I miss that. Kevin didn’t believe in an afterlife in a religious sense, but he did believe in posterity and the importance of influence. Knowing him helped to make me the person I am, and I’m sure he had a similar effect on others. He was an unusual person, a real individual, and he will be missed.