Pat Condray, gone too soon

Pat Condray, raconteur, toy soldier enthusiast, and apparently a yachtsman.

Pat Condray, raconteur, toy soldier enthusiast, and apparently a yachtsman.

I just received the word from Brett Abbott, Pat’s son-in-law.

Pat Condray has passed away.

“I am afraid Pat passed away earlier this morning. Not sure of arrangements yet, will update later. Thanks to all for the thoughts and prayers, this hobby meant a lot to Pat and he loved the people in it.”

Tragic news, tragic news.. this has been a bad year span for the founders and shakers of the American miniatures wargaming scene.   First Craig Taylor, then Donald Featherstone, then Bob Coggins, then Jay Hadley & John Hill (almost simultaneously) .  Now Pat Condray has joined the choir invisible.

It was kind of a shockingly, stupidly abrupt way to go.  Pat was in great shape for his age and exercised regularly.  Yesterday, he decided to go for a bicycle ride near his home in Florida.  A local resident named Pok Sun Morgan was driving his Chevy Equinox down the same road Pat was biking down the right side of. Morgan sideswiped Pat on his bike and he was thrown a long way.  Sadly, Pat wasn’t wearing a helmet.  I’m not sure if that would have saved him or not, but it surely couldn’t have hurt.   The damage was severe, and Pat was airlifted to a local hospital in a coma.   As you can see, he didn’t make it.

What can you say about Pat?  Where do you start?  For all the pride he took in being argumentative and a “Well Known Poison Pen” (a nickname he took perverse pride in and used as his signature), he was at the core, a kind-hearted man of keen intelligence and wit.  He was fiercely dedicated to the hobby of Toy Soldiers and the art of wargaming.  His historical passions were the Spanish Civil War and the War of Spanish Succession, a hobby that he grew into a small and successful business, the Historical Products Company.   I owned several of his SCW figures in 20mm even now, and still break out “Viva El Christo Rey!” from time to time.

A strange memorial to be sure. Part of a phony deck of “trading cards” I made up to lampoon the 2006 Board of Directors elections.

As for the hobby in general, his antecedents go much farther back than the much discussed “Wally’s Basement Crowd” (a tribute to the late, great Wally Simon, many years gone).  Pat was an early participant in the Toy Soldier Society and active participant in the creation of HMGS as an organization.  He helped create the early HISTORICONs and MINICON convention programs (MiniCon became Cold Wars), working with Jay Hadley and Bob Coggins, and was president of HMGS at least once.  Even years after the average former Board of Directors member had burnt out and faded away, Pat retained a scrupulous eye on the day to day efforts of the Society he helped found– pouring over BoD Meeting minutes, the projected Budget and convention reports, often bringing them back up in minute detail during membership meetings, which he hardly ever missed.  He likened himself to the chapter historian, in a sense.  He would retain a version of events from a dozen years ago and come up with his own grandiloquent turn of phrase for it years afterward– a Board Of Directors became “The Gang of Four” in anecdotes years later.  An effort to remove someone from the board of directors would be called a “Putsch”.    He loved to prose away at issues, using his own argot as much as possible.   Being somewhat prickly online, he often came off as a curmudgeonly crank, but he was never that way in person.

My favorite memories of Pat were the Spanish Civil War games he ran at NOVAG‘s small conventions held at the Elk’s Lodge and Masonic Halls in Northern VA.  These were transformative for me.  I had always loved the Spanish Civil War period but the hobby was all over the Big Three in those days (The American Civil War, Napoleonics and WW2 of course).  It was cool and refreshing to see someone dabble in this obscure little conflict that I felt like I was the only person who knew anything about.   And .. here was an entire line of miniatures devoted to it!  It did open my eyes to a world of possibilities about historical wargaming with miniatures, and led to my participation in HMGS, and wargaming conventions.   So you can blame Pat about that!

So, yeah, at the end of it all, what CAN you say?  Pat, I really wish you had worn your damned helmet.  God bless and keep you, rest in peace and I’ll say a prayer for your repose and for your family in your time of grief.  You will be missed very much.


3 responses to “Pat Condray, gone too soon

  1. Didn’t get to know him because of distance, but I did read a lot of his stuff. Good obit.

  2. A very sad time for his family. My prayers are with his family at this rough time. Pat was a very colorful character.

    Truly a tragedy and another blow to the hobby. I met Pat at a con, an early H’con in Harrisburg PA, my first Historicon! We had become quick friends as I was into 20mm Spanish Civil War and of course you know that was one of his passions. I have always gotten along very well with him despite his issues with a few others in the hobby. He like me, was unafraid to voice his concerns and thoughts without the care of repercussions or what others thought, be we right or wrong! We have both upset people within the con circuit and HMGS organizations. He liked to coin himself, “The Poison Pen”! His convention AAR’s were always a pleasure to read. He had taken thousands upon thousands of pictures of the cons for so many years, he must have a treasure trove of pics of games, cons, and people. The amount of positive things he’s done for this hobby are immeasurable. From starting new chapters to supporting existing ones. From running games to writing rules, from designing and selling miniatures to aiding a fellow hobbyist with questions. Pat loved this hobby and it’s adherents.

    I always made a point to spend some time with Pat at every con. In the early years I played in one of his SCW games at almost every con that he ran one and have bought many 20mm figs for the conflict from him for the years. Victor and I had played in one of his recent games a few cons ago at an HMGS-South con, the game was “A Place Called Jarma 1937”. I had just made a thumb drive for him of pics from that SCW game Vic and I had played in that I was going to give him at Recon-2015.

    We had conversed many, many times over years discussing battles, OOB’s, and uniform details. In the later years he would ask me about colonial uniforms for paint jobs on 54mm figs for his grandson. I will miss Pat……

    Passing away at 75 for such a vibrant person is way too soon. May he rest in peace! My thoughts and prayers to his family.

    Jeff Baumal

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