markwildyr.com, Post #141
Today, I don’t want to post a story, or cite from a novel, or talk about the wonderful state of New Mexico. I want to tell you about a friend and fellow writer. Dr. J. Stanley Rhine was a retired University of New Mexico professor, whose field was Forensic Anthropology. He spent a good part of his career traveling the western states visiting archaeological sites, examining bones to determine how ancient peoples lived and what they ate. After the notorious riot in the New Mexico State Penitentiary that took place February 2 and 3 in 1980, he was called in to identify some of the thirty-three dead inmates, some of whom were horribly mutilated. I cannot help but believe the experience of viewing “fresh kills” for the purpose of identification was much more traumatic than examining the dry bones of yester-century, but given his intensely laid-back personality, I doubt if it raised his heartbeat an iota. In fact, I could see him become far more animated at discovering something new from a dusty old bone from the 1700s. Not that he wasn’t empathetic—he was—but he viewed things as a scientist.
Stan was a standout in a crowd. Tall and wiry, he stood ramrod straight with a shock of white hair worn in the Mark Twain style and a thick white Samuel Clements mustache and was instantly identifiable. He spoke in a soft, low voice that required close attention to keep from losing what he was saying… and usually when he spoke, what he said was worth understanding and retaining. He wrote in a similar manner, a tight, small, cramped hand that almost required a magnifying glass to read. In fact, he belonged to a luncheon group of writers who completed the meal with a series of round robin stories (where each member adds a sentence or thought and passes the story to the next reader for like treatment), and one of our members sometimes carried just such a glass to read Stan’s contribution. Stan unfailingly added a moment of wit to each such story.
Retired, he maintained an office at UNM where he wrote short stories with clever O. Henry twists. I often told him he spent seven hundred words just to deliver a ten-word surprise. He was a perfect blend of wit and wisdom.
A member of our Wordwrights Writing Group that met for years at the North Domingo Multicultural Center, Stan wrote authoritative articles on Western railroads and published two volumes of his short stories, Talking Dogs, Singing Mice and Other Shaggy Dog Stories and An Omnium Gatherum (both available on Amazon). The titles are a perfect expression of Stan’s complexity.
Part of that complexity is demonstrated by the fact that while he was quite loquacious when speaking of other people and their efforts, few among the group of around forty people or so who attended our Wordwrights class knew little about his personal life, he held those details close. His instructions for his own disposal after death were typical: No funeral, no memorial service, no nothing. But everyone… and I mean everyone liked and respected Stan Rhine.
Tragically, Stan suffered a fall on Wednesday, December 9, which resulted in a skull fracture. Other problems developed, and Stan passed away in the morning hours of Sunday the 13th. According to his wife Sue, he was sedated and in no pain.
He will be missed by all who knew and loved him. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sue and his family. Rest in Peace, Stan.
A further note. This identical lament is posted in the Don Travis blog as we both knew, respected, and loved Stan.
The usual jumble of links and sources have been deleted, although I’ve retained the motto as it is something San agreed with wholeheartedly.
Goodbye, Stanley. Dear readers, I’ll be more in a mood to return to my usual type of posts by New Year’s Day. Thanks for indulging me.
Website and blog: markwildyr.com
Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!