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"keenly on his guard" [HOUN]

Sadly, the Baker Street Irregulars have lost another one of our own, just over a month after the most recent obit. Paul Smedegaard, BSI ("The Randall Gang") passed away suddenly on November 14.

Paul, who proudly hailed from Racine, Wisconsin, received his investiture in the BSI in 1977 and had been a stalwart member of a number of Sherlockian societies of the Midwest - too many to mention, really - but if you check out his profile on the Sherlockian Who's Who site, you'll see what I mean.

Paul was not only a joiner, but a leader. And everything he led, he led with a fire-in-the-belly passion that ignited similar feelings in others. It was a joy to see Paul get truly excited about things.

If you didn't know Paul, here are a few of his Sherlockian activities worthy of note:
Paul was progressive - well, as progressive as a midwestern Sherlockian could be. He advocated for bringing women into Hugo's Companions, and when he did, he was voted off of the executive board. But he hung tough and supported the decision of Tom Stix, BSI ("The Norwood Builder") in his decision as head of the Irregulars to make the group co-ed in 1991. And Paul was very proud of that fact. You can read something of the drama - and of a good deal of Paul's life in the excellent two-part interview that Gael Stahl did with him in 2000.

We had many occasions to chat with Paul during the BSI Weekends, and even saw him last year in Philadelphia, when we visited the Copper Beeches. Paul had driven all the way from Wisconsin to be there. He was that dedicated. And during the 2006 BSI Weekend, Paul decided to have an "episode" at the Gillette Lunch, where he turned ghostly white (even for a Wisconsoner) and had to be whisked to the emergency room. True to form, though, he showed up for the BSI Dinner later that night.

So we're sure the crew at From Gillette to Brett II is going to miss Paul this weekend. The Illustrious Clients of Indianapolis were part of his roster and I'm sure he would have made the drive down to Indiana to take part in such a wonderful event.

Paul was one of the nicest Sherlockians out there and he will be missed by many people around the world. He leaves behind his wife Margaret, who is also an Irregular ("The Criterion Bar") a son, a daughter and six grandchilren. Paul's funeral will be Saturday morning at 10:00 AM at Unitarian Universalist Church, 625 College Ave., in Racine. Visitation will be Friday night and Saturday morning from 9 to 10. The full obituary is available from the Racine Journal Times.

Please consider leaving a comment below that we can forward on to Paul's family as a sort of guest book.



Anonymous said... November 16, 2007 at 3:17 AM

Tous les holmésiens français qui ont connu Paul, pleurent aujourd'hui la disparition de leur "grand" ami.
Il m'a un jour offert ses médailles holmésiennes, il restera ainsi pour toujours au plus près de mon cœur à chaque réunion holmésienne, mais aussi le lendemain...

All the French Sherlockians who knew Paul, cry today the disappearance of their "tall" friend. One day, he offered me his Sherlockian medals, he will remain thus for always closest to my heart during each Sherlockian meeting to come, but also the following days...

Au revoir, cher ami !

Thierry Saint-Joanis (BSI) au nom de tous les holmésiens français de la SSHF et, en particulier, de Jean-Pierre Cagnat (BSI), Sébastien Le Page et Alexis Barquin.

Anonymous said... November 16, 2007 at 7:29 AM

I met Paul just a couple of times, and wish it had been more. He was all that a Sherlockian should be.

Roger Johnson ("The Pall Mall Gazette", BSI)

Anonymous said... November 16, 2007 at 1:35 PM

Paul was a great encourager of others in sharing his passion, and he was a fount of knowledge about the BSI and related matters. I will miss him very much at Sherlockian gatherings.

John Bergquist ("The King of Scandinavia")

Anonymous said... November 17, 2007 at 1:52 PM

Ho conosciuto Paul a New York in occasione degli incontri BSI, ed a nome di tutti gli Holmesiani italiani porgo le più sentite condoglianze. He will be missed.

Gianluca Salvatori, BSI
"The Dacre Hotel"

Barbara Roden said... November 18, 2007 at 12:10 PM

Very sad news indeed. Over the last few years I was fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time chatting with Paul at the BSI weekend, and always looked forward to seeing him. The lobby of the Algonquin won't be quite the same without his friendly and expansive and warm presence.

Julie McKuras said... November 19, 2007 at 3:23 PM

Everyone in the Norwegian Explorers will miss Paul, who made a number of trips over here to attend various gatherings, and was always encouraging and enthusiastic.

As to the comment "Paul was progressive - well, as progressive as a midwestern Sherlockian could be," regarding advocating for women in societies. Well, that's rather a provincial view of the world, isn't it? What Paul did in advocating for women took true character. Why make it sound like he was limited by where he lived?The midwestern Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota have included women since our beginning in 1948, something a number of other East Coast societies, which you might be acquainted with, still won't allow. Would you describe someone from the east coast as being as progressive as an east coaster could be?

Scott said... November 19, 2007 at 3:36 PM

Julie: I certainly didn't mean it in a pejorative sense; quite the opposite, actually. My experience of midwesterners (admittedly less than yours) has given me to think of them as extremely kind, polite and gentle people who would not make a fuss about things. When I met Paul, he was the first "rabble rouser" (for lack of a better term) that I've met from the Midwest.

Yes, the Explorers have had women as members since their founding, which I think is quite admirable and progressive. When I made reference to the term, I was thinking of a progressive who is a reformer rather than a founder. I think of those as two different personality profiles, and the reformer is more of a rabble-rouser, in my mind.

And if I said someone was as progressive as an east coaster could be, it would probably be an invective hurled at them in an argument. But let's keep away from that, as this is more of a family oriented blog. ;-)