When I was in the 7th grade I had a small circle of friends who were the outsiders of the outsiders. We were all part of the MYA program, Ann Arbor's Alternative Middle School, and most of that group had a more creative bent and outlook. Several of us came from families who had parents with artistic histories. My Dad had a BFA and my mother was one of those writing group/work shop types. My buddy Erik, his Dad-- Keith -- played bass, worked as a cab driver and wrote materials for the Role Playing Game Call of Cthulhu. It was this connection that first drew me to the work of H.P. Lovecraft, and the world of pulp fiction. I like to joke, this helped ruin my life, the truth is that it enriched my life.
I had an e-mail from Erik's mother over the weekend, she informed me that Keith Herber has passed away a couple of months back. He was 60 and his passing was sudden. I recall Keith as being my friends Dad, but also a guy who treated his son's friends like people and not kids who were underfoot. I recall him calling me one day during the summer in the late 80s, he was playing the computer game Wasteland and was stuck. He was looking for help on what the next step in the game was and with the clues he had found. I was more than happy to help him out, as I had won the game a couple of times at that point. I recall also play testing a Call of Cthulhu adventure for Gen Con with his family and seeing him around town into my high school years. As High School went on Erik and I drifted apart, he was a theater guy and I wasn't.
Keith and his wife moved out west in the late 80s, but I saw him again when he was in town for our High School Graduation. I had an e-mail or two with him a couple of years back and sent him some of the Reanimator Records CDs. It is strange the only other writer I had contact with when I was growing up was Robert Asprin(who was also the father of a school mate) and he passed away a year ago, but I guess I was just lucky that there were adults around who were creative and able to be an example of the creative life.