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I learned today that Dr. Howard Todd Kauderer had passed away. I have no words for this. I knew he had been ill. Yet, he was very active in social media, here and there, ran for the Board of Directors of the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society fairly recently, and was always, always, a steadfast volunteer on virtually every convention I’ve attended for the past decade. It’s like he just left the room a few minutes ago or something.
Guys like Todd are the salt of the earth. They aren’t drama queens. They are courteous, and thoughtful, and they work like mules so other people can benefit. Without complaint. I’m not exaggerating, here. Todd usually worked registration at conventions, working long shifts (supervising), and usually a longer shift than a lot of people (who were also working like donkeys, I might add). When the last dollar was counted and the bank drop made, then he would go have fun for himself. This was a routine.
It would be disingenuous to say we were close, or even buddies. Todd was one of that tribe of people I only get to see 3 times a year. Yet, he was a very pleasant, kindly man to talk to, even if we ran in different social circles.
Todd welcoming his granddaughter into the world (from Facebook)
Todd, thank you for the gift of your hard work, the gift of your intelligence, and your steadfast decency over the years. May God bless you and hold you in His hand. At the heart of it, our mutual hobby is all about people, and we should never forget the efforts of people who make the world just a little bit better by the application of patience and understanding.
I received word on Facebook, which was later confirmed, that my friend Al Hayden took his own life this week. Words simply fail me. It was an emotionally devastating moment to come home from Cold Wars, wondering why Al had missed a convention local to him, to discover he was in the process of deciding to end it all.
I admit I blinked back tears when I got word from Scott Muldoon late Tuesday night. Facebook Instant Messenger is not the best medium to convey the news that a mutual friend had passed on, especially by suicide, but what can you do, it’s the modern age. Maybe the modern age is what did Al in, I don’t know. His health hadn’t been very good in the last three years. He seemed depressed. I know his father had passed on, and his finances were, erm, in disarray more often then not. Maybe he had taken a good hard look at his future prospects and decided to check out. Who can say? I think Al would have preferred to have lived in simpler times. His abundant imagination was more at home in a world of Big Steam Powered robots and zeppelins than in the modern world.
Al playing Sergeant Slaughter in Bun Bun Land in 2004 (wearing the Pith Helmet)
I know that the advent of Obamacare hit Al pretty hard, he posted many snarky comments on Facebook about losing medical coverage and how expensive it had all gotten for him. Maybe he was simply out of options. We’ll never really know. I have no idea if he left a note.
What I do know is that the world is a much poorer place without Al Hayden in it. We live in a world where everyone is on edge, trying to one-up the next guy, to get over on them, to show off and have the last word at someone else’s expense. That wasn’t Al Hayden. He was content to smile, nod and let you make a fool of yourself. He was a kind, funny and sensitive man. Not to mention incredibly talented, endlessly patient, wickedly humorous and bitingly sardonic. I’ll miss him. I can hardly recall putting on a game in the early 00s without Al participating in it somehow, if it was a PA convention. Victorian Racing Contraptions, Psychotic Bunny-Murdering Galactic police, Cowboys and Zombies, Big Stompy Steam Robots.. Al was usually “all in” and suggesting ways to make the game better. Al was a kindred spirit, a great collaborator and a close friend.
Al, I’ll never understand why you choose to do what you did this week. I really wish I had been around more for you,man, I really do. Go with God and may He bless you and keep you in His hand.
Bob Coggins (seated) with S. Craig Taylor (left) at the re-release of Napoleon’s Battles.
Just noticed on The Miniatures Page:
This is just a brief note to make all the members aware that Robert Coggins, the co-creator, with Craig Taylor, of Napoleon’s Battles passed away this afternoon. He had been ill for several years and this past Wednesday he suffered a stroke as he was preparing to go to Historicon. The stroke precipitated a fall sometime on Thursday evening or early Friday morning and he was admitted to the hospital on Friday afternoon. He passed away at Union Memorial Hospital today, Monday July 21, 2014, in the late afternoon. He is survived by his brother, Richard. The funeral arrangements are not complete at this time. His brother will be making all the arrangements.
Bob Coggins has passed on. He was a very influential personality in the early days of the American miniatures hobby, and contributed countless hours to the foundation of the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society, HISTORICON, Origins and Atlanticon conventions. Bob was passionate about Napoleonic miniatures and was the co-author, along with Craig Taylor (also deceased), of Napoleon’s Battles, one of the most influential miniature rule sets of its era.
Bob was a prime mover in getting Miniature game representation at ORIGINS, and one of the cabal that decided to move historical miniatures to its own focused convention, HISTORICON. Bob was one of the people that met in Wally Simon’s basement and founded HMGS.
I can’t claim we were best friends or more than just acquaintance s, really. Still, I appreciated his efforts in the early days of the hobby and have enjoyed the fruits of his early efforts for many decades. My prayers are going out to Bob’s family at this time of sorrow.