Lord Eoghan MacDuibhshithe died unexpectedly on May 12, 2022. He is survived by his wife, Dame Margaret Makafee (Gretchen Beck).
Though a long-time subject of the Debatable Lands, Lord Eoghan started his SCA career in the 1980s in the Shire of Dachkehle (one of many early incarnations of what is now known as the Shire of Ballachlagan). At various points he served as Shire Seneschal, Herald, and Marshal. He had a particular interest in fencing, and traveled throughout West Virginia and Western PA to teach fencing back when it was new to the area. Along the way, he served on the Queen’s Guard for King Rurik and Queen Elspeth. His wife recalls “Folks thought, because he was big and heavy, he would be slow. They thought that for about half a second after they heard “lay on” and realized that someone that big, moving that fast, was truly scary.”
Lord Eoghan could also occasionally be convinced by his lady to participate in theatricals. She said, “I especially loved him and Connor M’Eleam [interacting] – they were in a Masque at Pennsic, a dispute of which is the greatest, Tragedy or Comedy — the two of them were supposed to play High Comedy and Low Comedy, but it turned out more Low Comedy and Lower Comedy — but a great good time was had by all (and I don’t think I’ve ever tried so hard not to break character by laughing).”
Eoghan’s choice of SCA name often gave heralds pause. Master Donnan the Solitary recalls an event when Eoghan was called into court. “The herald called for someone named “E-han Fe-own Mac Dub shide” or something like that. Of course no one responded. I looked around and [realized] Eoghan had chosen not to attend court, but… the poor herald was struggling with Gaelic attempts at transcribing the language into English. So [in] a probably not-as-respectful-as-I-should-have-been voice from the back of the hall, [I called] “um… could you spell that?”” The herald, looking rather put off, dutifully spell out Eoghan Fionn MacDuibhshithe (Owen Finn MacPhee is the way it is normally pronounced), and I went up and collected his AoA for him. The king at the time seemed rather amused, and informed me that my friend needed to get an easier-to-spell name. Eoghan never did; indeed, he often came up with interesting, yet period, ways to spell the clan name.”
Dame Margaret recalls “He used to be asked occasionally about the household banner, which showed a sword piercing a book, and would say that was our motto, “Strength through Knowledge.”
Lady Dearbhforgaill an Chomhaidh recalls, “[Eoghan] could tell a story that would leave you in stitches and make you wonder if a tenth of it was true (it was) and wonder how he was still standing. He was infuriating in a debate and irreverent but he loved deeply and was a loyal and true friend. I will miss him.”
Maistir Brandubh o Donghaile and Mistress Hilderun Hugelmann, Baron and Baroness of the Debatable Lands, posted this to the baronial blog: “Though Lord Eoghan had not been active these past years, he was a staple in our Barony in years past, excelling particularly in merry-making, and instrumental in bringing rapier fighting to the southern reaches of the Principality of Æthelmearc, along with his friends and household. As Dame Margaret said about him, “[Eoghan] is now one with the universe and no more in these earthly dwellings. Pray raise a glass and a fond memory for his time with you.””
Master Donnan recounts, “Eoghan was one of the first and oldest friends I made in the SCA, always quick to share a drink or a fight. He was there when I began fencing myself, and was there when I fought heavy. He was one of the people responsible for the revival of fencing in the local area that continues to this day, and most, if not all of the older local fencers will have their own Eoghan stories, on and especially off the field. He has indeed been described as larger than life, and the legend will continue to grow. I like to think that somewhere, he waits by a fire with a beer, a sword, and so many stories to tell, for all of us.”
Lord Eoghan was recognized with the Debatable Lands’ Baronial Order of the Comet for service as well as martial skill (twice). He received his Award of Arms from the East Kingdom in A.S. XXI. In A.S XXXIII, he was inducted into Ӕthelmearc’s Order of the Golden Alce by King Cygnus and Queen Dorinda, and in A.S. XXXVII, and he received a Keystone for his service as an archery marshal from King Rurik and Queen Elspeth.
Final arrangements are private to family, but there may be a memorial service later this summer.
THLord Aidan Gunn passed away on Sunday, April 24, 2022, at his home in the Shire of Steltonwald. He was 53.
His Lordship had served for six years as Seneschal of Steltonwald. In years past, he was involved in Thrown Weapons as a local and regional marshal, and served as Kingdom Thrown Weapons Champion for King Christopher and Queen Maurya.
After hearing about the SCA from his sister, his first event was Pennsic when he was only 14. He didn’t formally join the SCA until A.S.34, along with his wife, THLady Cionaodh Gunn. They both quickly became very active in assisting with events and activities in Steltonwald.
He received his Award of Arms from King Christopher and Queen Maurya at War Practice in A.S. 38 for his skill at thrown weapons, and more awards followed including a Keystone, a Golden Alce (also for thrown weapons), and a Millrind from Kin Byron and Queen Ariella in A.S. 51.
Master Creador Twinedragon recalls, “I am very sad with the loss of one of the bravest friends I have had. Why was Aidan one of the bravest people I know? Because he loved earnestly and openly, he showed kindness and caring without reservations. He was funny and calming and just a good person.”
Sir Oliver Sutton says “There are men that I grew up watching that taught me the type of man that I wanted to be. Fred Rogers, Bob Ross, Steve Irwin. They displayed a generosity of spirit, love of life, and kindness that I aspire to uphold. I fail more often than I succeed, but I strive. THL Aidan was on par with those men. His kindness and gentleness helped inspire me to be a better man. The world is dimmer without him in it, but our lives are all brighter for having known him.”
Baron Christian Goldenlok also remarked on Aidan’s kindness. “When we first moved to Pittsburgh, Aidan was one of the first people to invite my wife and I to go to the Canton meetings in an attempt to expand our friends network. I’ll never forget him because he was the first SCA “acquaintance” to make me feel loved and supported outside of my initial friend bubble. I was never made to feel anything more than royal around him. As I think of him fondly, I’ll try to remember how he treated me in an attempt to pay that forward to others.”
Mistress Alessandra d’Avignon notes, “Blood does not make family. A brother, a friend, an incredible uncle to my kids. A person that could make me whole again with just a hug and you always knew when I needed a hug and wouldn’t let go until I was better. Your kindness and outlook on the world helped us find the good that still exists.”
The Honorable Lady Clarissa da Svizzera (mka Heidi Wright) died unexpectedly at home on February 11 at age 63.
Clarissa was best known as a chirurgeon, a needleworker, and a purveyor of tart observations and acerbic humor. But she was also known for her bountiful kindness and generosity.
Mundanely a nurse, Clarissa served as Baronial and Principality Chirurgeon and spent many years working at Chirurgeon’s Point at Pennsic. She received her Award of Arms in A.S. 22, a Keystone in A.S. 25, and the East Kingdom’s Silver Crescent (roughly equivalent to a Millrind) in A.S. 30, primarily for that work.
Over the years Clarissa and her husband, Lord Coinneach Mac an Leigh, lived in many places. She joined the SCA in Thescorre as a student at the University of Rochester nursing school, although she learned about the Society when she was in high school, through college students at SUNY Geneseo where her father was a professor. After graduating from nursing school, she moved to the Rhydderich Hael to work at the Roswell Cancer Center as a pediatric nurse. It was while living in the Hael that she met and later married Coinneach, who was from the Shire of Riversmeet in Charleston, WV (now Blackstone Mountain.) After marrying, they lived in Riversmeet for six years, then moved to the Barony of Red Spears (Toledo, OH) in the Midrealm where they lived for seventeen years. Their final move was back to Thescorre, where they cared for Clarissa’s ailing father until his passing. Along the way they had a daughter, Rebecca (‘Becca), who is now 30.
At one time, Clarissa was a member of one of the cannon crews that mark the start and end of battles at Pennsic. Many Chirurgeons remember her fondly from their time together at Pennsic. Mistress Amaryllis Coleman, who served as Principality and East Kingdom Chirurgeon as well as Head of Chirurgeon’s Point at Pennsic in the 1990s, remembers “The most difficult part of the Pennsic Chirurgeonate was not the battles; they are intense, but there are also plenty of people around. The long, dark, cold nights, with the partying, the blades, the fires, and storms, staffed by a few dedicated crews, can be the scariest. Being Pennsic Chirurgeon and in charge of the Point, one thinks of plenty of things that can go wrong. However, as so many have observed, Clarissa would take that difficult shift, which lifted a great burden from me, but made it fun and attracted others to her team!” She also noted that Clarissa “had magnificent hair, but it had a mind of its own. She loved to have it braided whenever we were together.”
Viscount Brocc of Alderden, OP, OL, worked with THLady Clarissa for about 15 years at Pennsic, and recalls “Clarissa was always cheerful, fun and helpful. She managed to keep the seriousness of what was going on in chirurgeon’s point there, while not letting it become depressing. She was a good leader for us. I will always remember her smile.”
Members of the Pennsic Chirurgeons’ Point Staff.
Mistress Mairghead Stíobhard inghean uí Choinne says “I remember Clarissa attending every monthly A&S meeting when I was A&S minister for Thescorre for three years or more. She was always doing needlework and her blackwork was exquisite. She cheerfully painted game boards for Pennsic Childrens’ area, stamped napkins for Pax or whatever was requested sprinkled with her salty humor.
Specifically with respect to children, I remember Clarissa (and Coinneach) basically sponsoring an entire family with five or six children when Thescorre was trying to recruit new members as far as Geneseo where they lived. Clarissa and Coinneach transported the family to events and A&S and social meetings in Thescorre. Her patience and fairness was a joy to see. In addition, when the last Yeoman’s Event was held in Thescorre, Clarissa taught me and some others how to play what I believe was a form of Nine Man Morris on a lovely blackwork gameboard she had crafted.”
Lady Simonetta d’Alfassi recalls “A HARROWING trip we made to Dragonship Haven [in Connecticut]. We were attending the investiture of Baron Joseph of the Red Griffin and Baroness Bronwen Rose of Greyling, who was a friend of Clarissa’s. We drove through one of the worst winter storms I can remember – going 20 MPH on the highway. Then we went shopping in the most epic needlework shop ever, The Thistle in Glastonbury, CT — IN GARB. The patrons gave us the usual “are you in a play?” looks but the staff LOVED it and kept showing us “the special stock” because they thought we’d be more interested in the more historic-inspired pieces they had.”
Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope remembers the many kindnesses Clarissa bestowed on her friends. “As all parents know, the first few weeks with a new baby can be really rough, especially on the mom. When my older son Kenneth was born, Clarissa dropped everything and drove to Pittsburgh with her then-four-year-old daughter to spend a week with us to help out. She also embroidered baby quilts for both of my sons.”
Clarissa with Arianna’s then one-week-old son in 1996.
Her kindness to others was noted by many of her friends. Mistress Áine inghean Fhlaithimhin said “In the entire time we worked together at Chirurgeons’ Point, I never once saw her kindness or compassion for others wane, no matter how busy [we were] or how many gentles were waiting to be treated. That is what impressed me most as a new Chirurgeon. Clarissa’s empathy for others was something I tried to emulate with every person seeking treatment at CP.”
Viscountess Hodierna Miriglee of Lincludin commented “Clarissa and I became friends more years ago that I can remember. I remember long chats over tables and tasks. Reconnecting time after time as I moved around the Known Worlde. As I drifted away into daily life and our connection became virtual, she was quick with a supportive word, kind thoughts, encouragement, and a kindly shared laugh or joke. Her heart was so open and all-encompassing, she lived the example of loving and serving others. Our world is dimmer for her absence and better for her presence with us. May her memory ever be a blessing and the tales of her deeds inspire others.”
THLord Robert Pour Maintenant recalls that Clarissa always noticed when people needed something, even when it wasn’t obvious to others. “At an Ice Dragon years ago, Clarissa was working as one of the Chirurgeons during the tourney. Partway through she made sure that the marshals received some water to stay hydrated. The marshals were not exerting themselves like the fighters were, but were stuck in their lists, unlike the fighters who could step out to get a drink.”
THLord Richard Tyler of Swiftwater was another beneficiary of Clarissa’s kindness. “We were both living in the Midrealm when I had gall bladder surgery. One day shortly afterwards, she stopped by my house on her way home just as I was leaving for work, and provided a “drive by nursing.” I was already in the car, so she had me roll down the window. She checked and adjusted the bandage on the incision before I left for work.”
Clarissa was also noted for her quirky sense of humor. THLord Gareth the Eccentric of Saint Albans, former Principality Chronicler, says “I met Clarissa through the SCA almost exactly 35 years ago. She was wonderfully kind, caring, and funny. Clarissa was a nurse, and also connected to heraldry. At the time, the heraldic device that the Chirurgeons’ Guild used was a red cross on a white teardrop on a red background. Clarissa had a hard time remembering if it was red cross on white teardrop on white background or white cross on red teardrop on white background. However, one day she said “Oh! It’s ‘Sperm for Christ!'” and NONE of us ever had a problem recalling that [badge] again.”
Another bit of humor Clarissa loved was flaunting her leeches. In the middle ages, practitioners of the medical arts were sometimes called “leeches” because leeches were used to bleed patients to rid them of “bad humors.” Clarissa attached several small fabric leeches (basically stuffed animal versions) to her straw hat which she wore often at outdoor events. Aine commented “The hat with the leeches and [Pennsic] badges was legendary! No need for heraldry when she was wearing that hat on the side of the battlefield.”
While she did not use a pen or paint, Clarissa produced award medallions and SCA scrolls with her amazing embroidery skills. Mistress Sadira bint Wassouf, says “Clarissa met Saleem long before he joined the SCA when he was in college at Geneseo. Her dad was my biology prof. She was a prolific needle artist both in the SCA and in modern life. Every piece was perfect! One of her most intricate pieces was Saleem’s Pelican scroll, which now graces my gallery. It is a beautiful memory of her friendship and her artistry.’
Pelican scroll Clarissa made for Saleem in Alefan, based on a copyrighted design by Theresa Wentzler. Photo by Mistress Sadira bint Wassouf.
Pelican and Pel-Laurel medallions made by Clarissa. Photos courtesy of THL Richard Tyler of Swiftwater.
Mistress Amaryllis also shared this photo of a needlepoint that Clarissa made as a gift for her, of her favorite flower – the amaryllis, of course.
A funding campaign has been set up by Clarissa’s daughter, Becca, to help defray the cost of her mother’s final arrangements. Donations can be made here.
Lady Elswyth Rosamond (mka Rosalie Mae Carter Hillman) passed away on February 7 at the age of 83. In addition to holding an AoA, she was a member Thescorre’s service order, the Raven’s Feather, and a recipient of Æthelmearc’s Order of the Keystone, also for service.
Her daughter, Brehyres Gwendolyn the Graceful, says she frequently served at troll and as event registration clerk, and sang in Thescorre’s choir, Ravensong.
Her Excellency Dubheasa, Baroness of Thescorre, says “I knew Lady Elswyth as Ro. My first event was C3R (College of Three Ravens) over 20 years ago. I walked into the event, not knowing what to do or where to go. Ro was sitting at Troll, and when I told her I was new, she directed me to the kitchen. I spent that event in the kitchen, making life-long friends. I also spent several events sitting next to Ro at Troll, where I delighted in her knowledge and sense of humor. Because of Ro, I’ve developed my passions of the kitchens and service to Thescorre and Æthelmearc. I am forever grateful I knew Lady Elswyth.”
Dame Aine O’Muirghesan remembers “When I was expecting Emily, I bought Adam tickets to a Mandy Patinkin concert at the Eastman Théâtre for his birthday, the beginning of January. Emily wasn’t due until January 17, so we were good. Except the little stinker came three weeks early. So I needed a sitter, for a newborn baby. Mom (Rosalie) to the rescue! She and Gwen also gifted me with a rocking chair, because they had an extra one, and I should have one to rock my baby. I remember her kindness.”
Mistress Orianna Fridrikskona says: “I remember her working troll and being part of Ravensong. She always had a sweet smile and was a delight to be around and work with.”
As Mistress Arianna of the Gazette reported previously, Master John the Artificer (John Robert Rose) passed away on November 25th, 2020. Recently, his niece reached out the Kingdom of Aethelmearc to ask his friends and SCA family to share stories and pictures, so that his family may use them in an online virtual memorial that is being planned.
His niece has shared this information about his final arrangements:
A small funeral mass will be said on Friday, February 26th*, at 11am at Sacred Heart Church, in Highland Falls, NY. It will run live feed from [the Facebook page noted above], any who wish to attend virtually can sign on … at 11 am to catch the live service.
*If you would like to send Flowers for his Mass on Friday, you can contact Lilies of the Valley, in Highland Falls, NY. Their phone number is: 845-446-4446.*
We are currently planning a larger, virtual memorial to honor my uncle’s memory more in detail, and to invite friends and family to share together. The date of this is to be announced, anyone who wishes to be a speaker, or share pictures please let us know and we will gladly add you to the program. Thank you!!
[*Editor’s Note: The original version of this story had the date of the funeral mass on the 19th, but since it was delayed until the 26th due to inclement weather, the date was updated to the 26th.]
An online memorial gathering in honor of Master Remus Fletcher will be held this Saturday, January 16th, from 3pm to 4pm, as part of the virtual 12th Night Social, via Zoom.
Master Remus loved songs, voice and instrument, good stories, humor, and Loud Band at Pennsic. Chat in good company about Remus, music, story, humor, or anything he would have liked. Or bring your story and song to share. Let’s all enjoy some good cheer in his memory.
The gathering is being facilitated by Mistress Ts’vee’a bas Tseepora Levi. Link to the Zoom meeting will be available the morning of the event via the event schedule: http://bit.ly/12thNight21
Read the Gazette’s In Memoriam Article about Master Remus here.
Master Remus Fletcher of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands (Ron Schwoegl) passed away on December 18th after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.
Master Remus is probably best known as a musician, but his SCA career was long and varied. He joined the SCA in the early 1980s and was a heavy weapons fighter for many years, squired to Syr Vykor of Wales. After receiving his AoA in A.S. XVIII, he was inducted into the East Kingdom’s Order of High Merit for fighting, the Tygers Combatant, in A.S. XXI. His skill on the field of combat was also recognized with the Red Comet of the Debatable Lands. He served a term as Knight Marshal of the Debatable Lands.
In addition to combat, Remus spent much of his time in the SCA supporting the work of his lady wife, Mistress Amaryllis Coleman. A Physician’s Assistant in her modern life, she served as a chirurgeon at many levels in the SCA, including a term as East Kingdom Chirurgeon and several as Pennsic War Chirurgeon. Mistress Ts’vee’a bas Tseepora Levi recalls that Master Remus assisted in various ways, including “transporting supplies for Chirurgeon’s Point and Waterbearers for many years. That service… was a large part of why he was inducted into the Order of the Pelican.” His former protégé, Lord Edmundo da Monreale, recalls “When it came to service, [Remus] inspired me to look for needs and meet them as quietly as possible.”
Throughout that time, Remus was also promoting music in his barony and Kingdom. Marat She’erah bat Shlomo says, “Remus encouraged music and was sometimes a one-person source of ambience. He was happy to put instruments in people’s hands and teach.” In the 1980s, “before there was a Debatable Consort, Remus showed up at fighting practice with packets of photocopied music and a bag of recorders and the Consort grew from that. He was friendly and welcoming to all.” Remus was a founding member of both the Debatable Consort and the Debatable Quartet (later the Debatable Choir).
Remus also had a prodigious tenor voice which he used both in the SCA and as the cantor for his church. Mistress Sol la Cantor remembers “Remus was one of the first people that I knew in the SCA in Pittsburgh. I was ‘his soprano’. We sang John Dowland songs together. I was able to do music with Remus in both the Debatable Consort and Debatable Quartet. We traveled to West Virginia and Ohio to share music for demos and dance events. Once, we were chatting with others at a Thursday night dance practice… and I was talking with my hands. Gently, he put one hand over mine and lowered them down. I was struck dumb, unable to speak without my hands. Remembering that still makes me chuckle. I am a better person for having known him.”
THLady Rachel Dalicieux says “War Practice 2004 was maybe my second or third event, and I was questioning my wisdom in attending when I saw a man with a number of cool looking musical instruments. A Band Geek through and through, I said hello and talked for a bit, and before I knew it I’d grabbed my modern flute from my car trunk and sat down to play recorder music. I felt welcome and at home…and vindicated that I’d found a safe space where my talents were appreciated. Over the years we talked together and played together many times. I was glad to call him friend.”
That habit of playing music and teaching others to play in all kinds of venues lasted through his entire life; he was still regularly bringing instruments and music to Debatable Lands fighter practices in the summer of 2019, before the pandemic ended almost all SCA activities.
Remus was also known for his dry sense of humor and his penchant for whimsy, ranging from wearing a bear suit in the heat of Pennsic while playing fife and drum because he’d read that was what real buskers did in the Middle Ages, to putting on puppet shows with his son Daniel O’Rian (who was later named the Principal of the Order of the Silver Sycamore for his performances), to juggling and performing other acts of silliness. Lord Edmundo recounts “I had the great honor to be protégé to Master Remus. I think my main qualification was my willingness to have a contract ceremony based on a classic lazzi by the Brothers Marx from “A Night at the Opera.” When performing, Remus most loved to be part of an ensemble, and loved to bring as many people into the act as possible, whether encouraging a tone-deaf protégé or handing a spinning plate to anyone who stood still too long. Of course his favorite collaborator was his son Daniel in their little red pageant wagon.”
In recognition of that love of whimsy, at a Baronial Birthday event in July of A.S. XXXIV, King Cygnus and Queen Dorinda called Remus into court and commanded him to spin a plate for the duration of the court. Always game, he acceded to their request; then at the end of that court he received a Writ of Summons for the Order of the Pelican. He was elevated to the Pelican a month later, at Pennsic XXVIII.
One of Remus’ many delights was in mentoring and encouraging artisans and musicians. He served as Baronial and Kingdom Minister of Arts and Sciences, as well as Chancellor of the Ӕthelmearc Ӕcademy. Those offices gave him many opportunities to recognize artistic excellence in Society members. He often gifted gentles with folly bells (also known as jingle bells) as his token when he admired their work or served as a judge at an A&S competition. He was also known for regularly sending information to people about things he thought would interest them – links to videos of music performances, information about medieval instruments for sale, or just amusing anecdotes relating to our SCA activities.
Mistress Aleea Baga notes “Remus was a true patron of the arts. He encouraged me with my enameling. When he was given his writ for the Pelican he commissioned me to make his collar of state with all of his SCA awards. In part this was so that others in the kingdom could see my work. I have tried to pay this forward by supporting other artists.”
Remus was a connoisseur and collector of unusual medieval instruments. One of the places he could best indulge that love was in a music ensemble at Pennsic called the “Loud Band.” These musicians, not satisfied with mere recorders or fiddles, play instruments ranging from brass like the sackbut (a medieval variant of the trombone) to woodwinds like the cornetto and shawm, to bagpipes and the somewhat indescribable serpent, shown in the photo below. After Pennsic 44, Master Remus wrote an article for the Ӕthelmearc Gazette about the Loud Band, describing its history and activities. He had regular discussions with like-minded musicians; THLady Siri Toivosdottir of the Midrealm, who worked with Master Remus on the Medieval Music Expo at several Pennsics, says “Of course he was very enthusiastic about performing on the serpent. We talked about the Louds I wanted to get, and he offered some good advice about reputable vendors. He called me in June and we talked for quite a while; he was excited that he had just found a Great Bass Rosewood Kelhorn and knew I wanted one as well, [so] he promised to keep an eye out for me.”
Remus and Amaryllis were also well known for their generosity. Mistress Caitlyn FitzRobert says “I have been friends with Remus for over 30 years. After my first couple of years in the SCA my interest in costume brought me into the orbit of his oh so generous wife, Amaryllis. Through Amaryllis, I found the SCA family I would be part of to this day. And Remus was there, always. [At Pennsic] I camped with We Happy Few. One night it rained THROUGH the roof of my tent. Remus let me sleep in their pavilion that night. He was our land agent for all those years and I was always part of We Happy Few even when Pennsic became too much for my health. I will miss my friend.”
Mistress Katerina Affodil recalls “He was a silent philanthropist and conscientious humanitarian. He’d adopt an artist or a group and pour his resources into it. He’d share knowledge and contacts and financially back as best he could their every endeavor. In the Society, he taught and shared his vast collection of period instruments. He didn’t stick around to garner praise for sharing his talents to produce ambience, be it as a busker and street performer or a musician and singer at court, either. “Good service is invisible,” he’d say. On a purely personal note, he was such a great friend to me. He called to check on me when no one else did. He understood my anxiety when it rained and listened without judgement. He bought and gifted my books, though horror was hardly his genre of choice. He was generous to a fault.”
Remus and Amaryllis were particularly appreciative of the scribal community. Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin was assigned a joint Court Barony scroll for them in A.S. XLIII by King Christopher and Queen Morgen. She recalls “They sent me a lovely thank you note, a large piece of parchment and a gift card to buy supplies. I never met him, but their kindness and appreciation for the scribal arts stayed with me until this day and encouraged me to keep on with my efforts.” Other scribes report similar thoughtful gifts from Remus and Amaryllis in thanks for their work.
Not surprisingly, he also loved children. Mistress Katerina says “Many remember his now-grown son as a little boy in his Daddy’s back carrier or pulled through the Pennsic heat in a tricked-out wagon. Scout Leader, Game Master, Turtle and “Tommy Cat” keeper, this good father and Godfather adopted many to his heart.” Count Byron of Haverford and Countess Ariella of Thornbury remember “At Pennsic XLIII, we were trying to find something fun for our 3 kids to do. Leah and Ian would gamely try archery and thrown weapons, but Joshua has always been tougher to engage in the SCA. His love of music (and low brass instruments in particular) has been the only thing to really drag him in. Remus understood this better than anyone else in the Society, and who better to entertain someone who loves musical instruments? Thus, we were thankful to see Master Remus’ Medieval Instruments class on the schedule. We straggled in a bit late and tried to find a seat at the back of the class, just as Remus started to show off his new serpent. The serpent is a late-medieval instrument that is terribly difficult to play, and even harder to play well. But that’s not the sort of thing Remus wanted the audience to take away from his class, so he told the crowd that this was an easy instrument for anyone to just pick up and play. He glanced through the audience as if searching randomly, then settled on Joshua. “How about you? Do you want to give it a try?” he called, and Joshua eagerly hurried forward. To everyone’s shock, Joshua sat down and began to play the serpent with perfect pitch. Remus had the entire class believing that any random teen could play [the instrument] his beloved wife, Mistress Amaryllis, called ‘The Dying Water Buffalo’.”
Master Remus was known for his great kindness; many people referred to him as “Uncle” Remus. Mistress Katerina says he “had a heart bigger than his hug. To paint him would be to use the brightest colors, like his smiley face badge.” Baron Brandubh o Donnghaile and Baroness Hilderun Hugelmann of the Debatable Lands recall “His presence and voice would fill the room, and he was always eager to lend a helping hand wherever needed, but especially to us newer folks. He had a keen wit, and his eyes rarely stopped sparkling, looking for the next sly joke or terrible pun. Hilda remembers him introducing himself as “Remus T. Fletcher… the ‘T’ stands for ‘the’…” followed by his full laughter. Her favorite memory of him is the moving and romantic aria he sang as the processional to his wife, Mistress Amaryllis’, Peerage elevation ceremony. Brandubh remembers his great love of music. He was always happy to fill the halls and Courts with music.”
Above all, however, the defining element of his life was Remus’ immense love for his wife. He made sure that she, and everyone else, knew how much he cherished her. Mistress Katerina says “He adored his beautiful and accomplished bride, my Mistress Amaryllis. Since I consider this beautiful woman a sister of my heart, that made Ron my brother, and I’ll always be grateful for the time I had with him.”
Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon wrote on Facebook: “Remus Fletcher was the melody, the harmony, the baritone, and every strange and gentle wind instrument known, which he both collected and played. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him. Rest in harmony, friend, and flights of angels sing thee to thy sleep. Gloria in excelsis.”
Of Ron and Remus by Mistress Katerina Affodil
Through family’s love and cancerous cry A troubadour answered celestial call After a life well lived he bid goodbye And entered his Father’s heavenly hall.
Dressed once as a bear or in blue and whites Teaching, ringing bells, and balancing plates Retired squire with chivalrous fights Master Remus others oft elevates.
Fletcher, bringer of bells, singer of songs, Good father, Godfather, loving husband, Officer, encourager, for peace longed Prayer partner, witty intellect, oft punned.
As thou didst in life, speak thee fair in death Sing thee well sweet songs upon angel breath.
The Heavenly Choir is swelled, as into its loving embrace, a glorious tenor lends his voice and sings praises to our King.
Master Remus’ obituary is available at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website. Note from the obituary: There will be a future memorial service held in his honor on his next birthday, granted all COVID restrictions are lifted. In lieu of flowers or gifts, donations can be made to Holy Family Parish, as the Church and our Heavenly Father were Ron’s first love.
Ron was very adamant that everyone remain safe during the COVID pandemic, and therefore there will be no visitation hours. A Latin Funeral Mass will be held on Tuesday, December 22, 2020, 10:00 a.m. at St. John Baptist Catholic Church in Plum, PA, with a livestream here: https://holyfamilypgh.org/weddings-funerals-covid-19
Master John the Artificer of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands passed away unexpectedly in his home on November 25th, A.S. LV, at the age of 66.
John was an SCA member for over 40 years, and was honored with the East Kingdom Orders of the Silver Crescent (service) and Maunche (arts) as well as a Laurel in 1987. In 1999 he received a Millrind from Æthelmearc. Until her passing almost three years ago, he was champion and companion of Mistress Achren of the Debatable Lands.
Lady Bronwyn Jourdemaine notes “More recently, John had retired, and was enjoying himself. He had become involved with Mistress Siobhan ingen Ragnaill, a fellow companion of the Order of the Laurel, originally from the Kingdom of Trimaris. They traveled together to New Zealand and England, and were planning a trip to Scotland next year.
Master John had a keen interest in medieval sciences. Mistress Kris Gilibari recalls: “John really was about investigating medieval technology, he was always up to some project or other. I once remember Master John doing a demo in Mistress Achren’s living room, to show how cochineal was made. This is a messy, chemical process that can even “boil over”, which is to say it can foam up and you end up with pink dye everyplace. Chemicals and raw materials went in, and out came some bright pink goop that will later dry out and become a useful pigment. But he did it, and made a rather complicated operation look pretty simple. This is what he was about, investigating old processes and recipes, drawing from ancient accounts of how to build, make, or brew countless concoctions and devices just for the sake of knowing, and then explaining to others how to do the same.”
Lady Bronwyn said, “An engineer, it would surprise no one that his interests included alchemy and other medieval sciences. His researches in those subjects were known throughout the Known World. It was through them that he got to know Mistress Achren. who would be his partner until she died three years ago. He would be a large help to Achren’s family, including her two children who live abroad now.” Lady Bronwyn also notes, “John was truly a renaissance man, interested in brewing, cooking, dye making, metal working, printing, painting, and theater.”
Master John was probably best known for the replica Norwegian stave church that served as his merchant booth at Pennsic. Before he purchased it, the stave church was used at the Carnegie Mellon University annual Spring Carnival. Mistress Kris remembers: “His little stave-church shop was a fixture for so many years at Pennsic, serving as both a store and as a meeting place for any and all comers, and the benches out front provided shade and rest for weary Pennsic shoppers. At night, the warm golden lights inside the tiny building made it look so inviting and joyous, and more often than not, laughter or song could be heard from within. To be honest, once you stepped inside it was difficult to leave, since one story or joke just led to another, and on into the summer evenings. And that is how I’m always going to remember him, laughing and telling his tales, explaining how things worked, there in the shop of many things.”
In that booth John sold a variety of goods, many of them scribal. Mistress Kris continues, “John kept the scribes and artists of the Barony well supplied with pigments and other period tools. In fact, I have a piece of sterling silver rod that I bought from him years ago for silverpoint drawing, and I still use it at my desk every day.”
Mistress Filipia Cupbreaker shared John’s merchant booth and also traveled to Europe with him. “I will always treasure the time I had with him at the stave church, putting period materials into artist’s hands and knowledge into their heads. “Cennini-weight gold leaf – go on, touch it.” He provided a cornerstone for the community and a nexus for information exchange.”
Mistress Una de St. Luc remembers how hot it was in the church at Pennsic. “The filtered light through the wood, surrounded by various artistic things. John was such a lover of the arts and supporting artists. I remember he was really getting into trying to make block prints. We would talk about block print scrolls and designs. I think some people received some of his block print scrolls. For scribes, I feel like for a long time he was the place to go to buy pigments. I went there many times and sat with Master Brendan Brisbane and John, taking notes on art. Master John… was one of the foundation stones for the scribal community by providing the artists with needed supplies. He helped to bridge the gap for many scribes to go from modern day artist to using medieval equipment.”
Mistress Ts’vee’a bas Tseepora recalls, “I remember one time he tried to grow flax to make linen, but the smell of the retting flax made his neighbors complain. The stave church he sold out of was originally built for CMU carnival. It made him happy to have people come in and let him [explain] what it was modeled after. The pigments he sold, he ground himself.”
John was also involved with one of the first theatrical troupes in what is now Æthelmearc, called Commedia Forensica. Master Dani of the Seven Wells recounted an incident when Comedia Forensica was rehearsing on Mistress Achren’s lawn. “John felt the frolicking wasn’t up to snuff (the play was “Undine”), so he demonstrated how to frolic – a combination of dance, leap, and make a bad landing. Okay, the bad landing may not have been intended. When they asked him in the emergency room how he’d hurt his ankle, he said “frolicking”, and that’s what they wrote on his chart.”
Mistress Filipia took a trip with John to Italy, and says “John and I often looked at the same artifact and had a different intellectual experience/association. My favorite memory, though, was climbing the newly restored and opened tower of Pisa, and laughing as we wondered if it was safe to have both of our massive egos on the same side on top.”
Sir Maghnus an Chnoic na n’Iora recalls that, together with Mistress Achren, Master John founded the Chiurgeons, Hermeticists, Alchemists and Thaumaturgist’s (or CHAT) Guild, which met monthly in the Debatable Lands. “I went to several [meetings]. I remember a lot of talk about Hermès Trismagistus, as one would expect. I also remember the discussion of the high level of technology indicated by the Antikytheria Mechanism, and the terrible impact that the Pompei eruption must have had on the civilization of the Mediterranean Basin.”
Lady Arcana, daughter of Mistress Achren, recalls “I was an apprentice to the erudite Master for Artificing; the myriad projects were ever shifting from notorious Lexan armour (stormtrooper-esque, which appalled authenticity police) to astrolabes to massive period pavilions. Not to mention Viking oar tents, rope beds, hand ground illumination pigments, the Pennsic Stave Church, a gigantic bread oven for giant feast loaves, leatherwork belts and shoes, metalwork, to printing, exploding mead, and a beautiful and loud bronze calyx. This is but a sample.”
Lady Arcana also noted, “John used to sneak ferrets into Pennsic, codename ‘Geraniums’. People thought he was horticulturally minded as he often nipped out to ‘water the geraniums’. He was in fact into gardening as well and grew some of his plants for dye paints though never gave me the long promised blue turnsole. His mind flit rapidly from subject to subject, thus he was well matched with SCAdian life. ”
Lady Arcana continues, “John was mundanely part of my family and remained so unto the end. We traveled on Medieval and Renaissance research in US, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Portugal. We toured obscure museums and sites of historic interest. He always had thoroughly studied for these trips, and made travel plan packs with maps and highlights. Life without John will be considerably less interesting. He was rather eccentric, thorny at times, yet generous of nature with an unusual brand of kindness. There was inside a good heart.”
Lady Arcana’s children also recall Master John fondly. Her son Arden said, “Master John the Artificer, with his partner Baroness Achren, graciously hosted me at Pennsic many times since the 80s. He got me my first ever job, as an SCA paper boy in the early 90s, and brought me to my first sword fighting tourney. I assisted Master John with his stave church for a couple years in the early 2000s. A beautiful Norse treasure chest on wheels; gems and gold, precious pigments and scrolls, incense and all manner of craft and luxury items occupied every dark cool corner of it.
At Pennsics 25 and 30 each Scadian received an astrolabe designed by Master John the Artificer as their ID band medallion. These beautiful works, engraved in metal, were functional for star gazing and navigation. Master John’s diverse skills and learning were a great light for many, and our loss is deeply felt.”
Her other son, Art, has “fond memories of John at the war helping him in his church. He would be selling all kinds or interesting and wonderful things including limpet shells as paint tins, which I would collect for him from when I was a young age back in Ireland at Streedagh beach (where 3 Spanish Armada ships had crashed).”
On October 3rd, A.S. LV, Æthelmearc lost a beloved subject when Sir Thorgrim Skullsplitter, companion of the Keystone, Sycamore, and Golden Alce, Companion of the Gage and the Millrind, and Knight of the Society, passed away unexpectedly at age 50.
With his lady wife, Mistress Katla Ulfheđin, Sir Thorgrim was the head of Stormhaven, a large and respected household centered primarily in his home Shire of Sunderoak.
He served in many offices, ranging from knight marshal, seneschal, and chatelaine of his shire, to Regional Commander of the Æthelmearc army and Kingdom Youth Marshal. Along the way, he autocratted a number of events including the Æthelwald Proving Grounds, and was active in many arts and sciences, like brewing, leatherwork, woodwork, and armoring.
Sir Thorgrim believed that to be a knight is to be more than simply a good fighter. In an interview in A.S. 50 for a Gazette article about knighthood, he said, “The Knightly Virtues align well with the Boy Scouts’ creed, which I very much hold to. Prowess is not as important as being a good person. Without those other virtues, a fighter is just another thug.”
Sir Thorgrim also emphasized the importance of service and relationships in the SCA. “At one point I trained with fighters who had prowess as their goal, but over time I found that service to the fighting community was a better path for me.”
Initially, Sir Thorgrim was squired to Duke Rurik Longsword, from whom he learned most of his fighting technique. Later, he was squired to Sir Kadan Chákhilgan Ger on Echen, who he said helped him to have the right attitude.
Sir Kadan recounted this story about his former squire: “He was a good student and had improved to the point where he was being discussed by the order of the Chivalry. He had a lot of support from my brothers in the order at one point, but I spoke up saying that I I thought he needed a little more work and training and was not yet ready.
You can’t make a statement like that in an order meeting without taking action; I needed to have “the talk” with Thorgrim. It was one of the most difficult conversations I have ever had in my life. I said I thought him a knight in every way save prowess, and even there he was so, so close. I told him I wanted him to take that one final step. I know that was hard for him to hear but all he did was take a deep breath and say “So what do we need to do to make that happen.” He took my advice to heart, ramped up his training and put it into practice quickly. His skill exploded to the point of being way past my own. There was a stretch of about eight months where Thorgrim placed in the the final four or the top two in every tournament he entered.
On the day of his knighting, I hugged him and told him that I could not be prouder of him. He and I never spoke about that conversation again except once, about seven years after his knighting. I apologized for having said what I said, and I told him that the previous years and hindsight had shown me that I was wrong. He was ready and I didn’t see it. I wanted to let him know that I recognized my mistake. All he did was smile and say “Oh that’s OK boss, that lit a fire under my ass so I don’t hold it against you.”
Mistress Aleea Baga, wife of Sir Kadan, commented “I remember how, as any good parent would, he set all of his personal goals aside to take care of his son (Lord Torstein Thorgrimsson) who went to Children’s Hospital with a severe stomach bug, to then find out it was cancer. When his son lost his hair due to chemo, [Thorgrim] shaved his head in solidarity. In 2017, when I was fighting breast cancer, he dyed his hair bright pink for the war that I missed.”
Fortunately, Torstein, now an adult, has been cancer-free for over 15 years.
Sir Thorgrim had many squires, including Lord Titus Marius Caninus, THLord Rhys of Myles End, THLord Garreth Whytbull, Lady Takasukasa Riku, Lord Wolfgar Ronaldson, and Lord Uthred Aet Pyttansburh. Two of his children, Lord Torstein and Lady Runa Thorgrimsdottir were also squired to their father. Lady Runa said “I think my favorite memory is the first time I got to fight side by side with him on the field! I will never forget that feeling of pride cause I got to fight with my dad.” Torstein said, “I’d have to echo that, and just how great of a leader and a knight he was.”
Another of his squires, Oliver Sutton, was knighted at Blackstone Raid last year. Sir Oliver posted this remembrance on his Facebook page:
“Being a great leader isn’t about achievement and it isn’t about having the ability to make snap decisions that are always right. Being a leader is about choosing the best options in front of you and what is best for all of those affected. It is taking and accepting responsibility when you choose poorly. It is about being an exemplar. And being a great leader, ultimately, is about developing new and better leaders.
Being a great father isn’t about just playing ball or making sure the kid knows how to wash dishes and change oil. It’s about showing the child how to love. Teaching empathy and respect. We do that by opening our homes to those in need. We do it by being inclusive. By showing tolerance. We do it in leading by example. We do it by being a shelter from the storm. Being a great father is showing our children how to be great parents.
Being a great teacher isn’t about giving the answers. It isn’t even about showing how to find the answers. It’s about instilling that want to know. It’s about teaching to ask the questions. Sure, the discipline is a part of it. The rules matter. Knowledge is needed. Form, footwork, values, how to tie a knot, which fork to use, the history of a thing…. But being a mentor is the desire to walk a path towards excellence and mastery, all the while developing your student’s desire to walk that path by your side. Being a giant isn’t about stature.
The lasting effect of Thorgrim isn’t the memories we made with the man, though God I will cherish those…. it will be in the legacy of those he has touched. Those who have grown because of him. Those great leaders, great fathers, and great mentors that saw it and learned it from him. That legacy will ripple down through generation after generation ever widening. Ever teaching. Ever loving.
My Knight. My friend. My brother. You are a giant.”
Mistress Mahin Banu Tabrizi, who says she moved to Æthelmearc at least partly because of Sir Thorgrim and Mistress Katla, commented, “I met Sir Thorgrim before he was a knight, at Landgrab one year when his group was new to the block. Over the next two weeks I was welcomed and shown Æthelmearc hospitality from a household that would soon become my own. Early on, he and his household explained the meaning behind the name. What I found was exactly as described, a haven in the storm.”
Duke Gareth Kincaid posted this to his Facebook page: “Sir Thorgrim was a good friend to me for over 20 years, I thought of him as a brother. We worked together so many years training fighters in Æthelwald. Our households are close like first cousins.
What I have been remembering this week is the honorable man that loved his wife. When you spend time with someone you know which ones have the wandering eye. He never did. It was always all about [Katla]. You could see the joy they had in each others’ presence.
I remember how proud he was of his children and the example he was for them.
I remember how, when my best friend died, Thorgrim and Stormhaven wore black armbands at war that year with us to honor Shane. We will wear ones at the next Pennsic to honor Thorgrim.
There’s no replacement for friends lost, no getting over it, only pain that surrenders to memory and thankfulness for time you were gifted. I will miss him beside me on the battlefield: his wisdom and advice, his strength and loyalty.”
Sir Thorgrim is survived by his wife, Mistress Katla, his children, Erin Gurnsey, Jessica Rose (Ava Thorgrimsdottir), Katryna Marvel (Lady Runa), Ian Reitemeyer (Ragnar Thorgrimsson), and Garrett Gurnsey (Lord Torstein), as well as grandchildren Misty, Scarlette, and Edward.
The family has requested that anyone wishing to honor Sir Thorgrim consider making a memorial contribution to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Free Care Fund, https://www.givetochildrens.org/ freecare.