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.”
Master Jacopo di Niccolo of the Shire of Steltonwald passed away on February 12, A.S. LV, while recovering from open heart surgery. He was 72.
Master Jacopo was a familiar figure to the archers of the Society. His prowess as an archer was renowned, as was his making of high-quality arrows. But he was especially beloved for his teaching of archery and his wry sense of humor. Jacopo’s guidance is behind many of the finest archers of Ӕthelmearc, including the first Youth Ludicrous Bowman in the Society, Lady Ghalyla bint Joseph, who is protégé to his wife, Mistress Ysabel Graver.
Along with Mistress Ysabel, Master Jacopo was a driving force in the Canton, now Shire of Steltonwald. He served as Canton Archery Marshal and was regularly on staff for both the Steltonwald event called Archers to the Wald and Ӕthelmearc War Practice, often at troll and on the archery range. He served as Kingdom Archery Scorekeeper, and later as Kingdom Captain-General of Archers, stepping down in A.S. 41.
THLord Aidan Gunn, Seneschal of Steltonwald, announced Master Jacopo’s passing and said “Many in our fair Kingdom knew him. As an archer, teacher, mentor, brother and above all as a friend. He will be greatly missed by us all.” He later reminisced, “Back in 2001, I went to my first big event. It was Blackstone Raids. We were up early and wandering around when we noticed a bunch of people at the archery range. We wandered over and some of the archers started chatting with us while they warmed up for something called a 7 Pearls Tournament, whatever that was…
Over walks Joc. He starts chatting and decides to warm up. His first arrow drilled a pop bottle at 40 yards! That was his only warm up shot. Needless to say, he won for the BMDL. When I congratulated him later, which was a huge step for me because I was rather shy (stop laughing), he was very humble and gracious [saying] “ Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then.”
A week or so later, I found out he was Captain of Archers for Steltonwald and held a regular practice. I started attending and over time he went from being my teacher to my friend, and then a second father, helping me along so many rough spots and encouraging me to grow.”
Master Anias Fenne posted on Facebook: “From my very first moments in the SCA, he was one of the kindest, most encouraging, most affable people I’ve known. For 25 years he never stopped encouraging me, pushing me to do more, making me laugh, and being my friend. So many late night conversations over a beer. So many early morning conversations over a coffee. So many laughs on the range. So many funny thank you cards in the mail every time I made a commission for him… The SCA and the rest of the world just got a little dimmer for me, and I know I’m not the only one. I’m really going to miss you.”
Master Denys the Decadent, Companion of the Scarlet Guard, said “My thoughts of Jacopo are two-fold: first, his teaching of archery to others. He took many under his wing and shared his knowledge, assisting, training and teaching. Second, has been the honor of shooting along side him on the archery line in competition. He had wonderful skills and enjoyed the sport. I will miss his smile.”
Master Jacopo was one of the most skilled archers Ӕthelmearc as ever had. He was recognized as a Grandmaster Bowman (scoring a Royal Round average of at least 100) by King Cygnus and Queen Dorinda in A.S. 34, and became a Ludicrous Bowman in A.S. A.S. 49. Ludicrous Bowman is an unofficial rank given to archers with Royal Round scores of 120 or more, because the first time someone scored that high, a friend said “That’s ludicrous!” A very select cadre of archers in the Society have reached this pinnacle of skill. He also held the highest score for longbow in the entire Society in the Gwyntarian Winter Challenge of A.S. 46, at 208 points. He served as Kingdom Archery Champion at least twice, most recently in A.S. 52, and was a member of the Kingdom’s Archery Champions’ team at Pennsic many times, including a stint as team Captain.
Master Ambrosius MacDaibhidh, also a Companion of the Scarlet Guard, recalls “When I think about Jacopo, I think about one word, “consistency.” Consistency as evidenced throughout his life and well documented by the ranks that he attained within the SCA and without.
The Jacopo I knew consistently exhibited sound judgment, reliability, trustworthiness, technical prowess, and the ability to pass along wisdom as a mentor. It is obvious that I’m not the only one who saw these qualities – Jac’s induction into the Order of the Scarlet Guard, his Elevation to the Peerage as a Master of the Pelican, and his Navy rank of Senior Chief Petty Office are all testaments to the fact that others were able to see these consistencies as well.
I remember a humbling demonstration of his technical prowess when he borrowed my bow and struck a certain mark before any of the rest of us could zero in on it. His jocular response was that anyone who claims to be an archer should be able to shoot whatever bow is at hand.
He was willing to teach all who would learn about making arrows and bow strings. I took away some helpful tips on arrow making that encouraged me to spend some hours improving my skills.
Most fondly however, I remember an incident just a couple of years ago when I was struggling in my own role as a mentor. I was at my wit’s end and flat out of ideas. I had talked with a few people whose opinions and judgment I valued and then I finally turned to Joc and said “Senior, I need your counsel. Can we talk.” We metaphorically traded our SCA hats of Peers and equals for our old Navy covers and went outside for a private chat where I leaned in on his consistent judgment, experience, wisdom, and friendship, and took away a renewed hope and a new course of action.
My hope is that all of us who were fortunate enough to spend some time with Jacopo can see that we were touched by some aspect of the consistencies that he developed in his life and are able to lean on those lessons and become more consistent in our own lives.
Master Jacopo’s skill as a fletcher, which was recognized with the Orders of the Sycamore and Fleur d’ Ӕthelmearc, was legendary. Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope recalls, “Each year on the way to visit his daughter, Jacopo would stop in Missouri at the Three Rivers Archery store, which carries cedar arrow shafts. Cedar had become expensive and hard to find over the past decade or so, and this store had a bin full of them. But Jac wasn’t looking for just any shafts – he not only checked each shaft for straightness and soundness, he also brought a small scale which he used to weigh each shaft. He would put groups of shafts of the same weight, or grains, together in batches to create matching sets. He also made sure that the weight, or “spine” of the arrows he made for each person was perfectly matched to the pull weight of their bow. I was stunned when the first set of arrows Jac made for me caused my Royal Round score to increase by 15 points. He made me two more sets after that, and I’m sad that the ones I have now will be the last – though I will miss him for much more than his arrows.”
Baron Edward Harbinger, Society Archery Marshal, said “One of my fondest memories of Jacopo is from a couple of years ago when I was running a Kingdom fundraiser. I had come up with a “peerage” shoot, where there were effigies of the different peers as targets. Peers of the Realm could sponsor a target (put their name on it) and have people shoot at it for a dollar an arrow. They would match the hits, up to $20 max, unless they wanted to shoot at it themselves. If they shot at their own target and hit, it took a dollar off their count, if they missed, they would pay an additional dollar. It was all in good fun and a lot of the peers were having fun encouraging people to shoot at them.
I asked Jacopo if he would sponsor a target and his response was “of course! There are a lot of people who would like to shoot me.” He was wearing a big smile as he said it. Throughout the day he would stop back periodically and ask how the shoot was going. When the scores got close to 20 on his target, he would loose off enough to zero it out so people would keep shooting at him. He did this at least three times during the day. At the end of the day, his target brought in about $80 on its own…..and then he threw in a $20 bill on top of it. Throughout the fundraiser, his was the most shot at target, bar none. That day he impressed me with his generosity and skill. He gave me a lesson in what it is to truly be a peer that you look up to.”
Master Jacopo was inducted into the Order of the Pelican in A.S. 40 by King Malcolm and Queen Tessa for his service to the kingdom, and especially to the archery community.
In A.S. 50, King Timothy and Queen Gabrielle named Jacopo the 39th Jewel of Ӕthelmearc for his long service to the Kingdom. Now-Duke Timothy said “Our kingdom, our Society, has lost a treasure. I’ve known many fine men and women. I’m not sure I’ve met one better than Master Jacopo. I can’t imagine him ever saying a word about himself, he was also as humble a man as I’ve ever met. But he didn’t need to. Heck, no one needed to speak on his behalf. If ever there was a person who exemplified “Deeds, not words”, it was him
But I assure you, everyone in our kingdom who has ever drawn a bow knew this man and would agree with the above sentiments. We will conclude with this. Some years back, we happened to be Prince and Princess during the time the BoD was contemplating a rapier peerage. For a brief while, it appeared that there would be a blanket peerage for all the other martial activities that aren’t heavy combat, archery included amongst them. Hands down, Joc would have been the archer we’d have made one. If such a peerage ever comes to pass, it will be a travesty that Joc isn’t its principal member here in Ӕthelmearc.
Our hearts go out to his family, and all those who share in their grief.”
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.
Our sister publication, the East Kingdom Gazette, has published a memorial article about Viscount Edward Zifran of Gendy, who passed away on July 15th after suffering a stroke. Also known by his nickname “Fast Eddy,” Sir Edward was known throughout the Society, most especially for his work at the Pennsic War, held here in Æthelmearc.
The East Kingdom lost a legend to Covid-19 last week in Master Liam St. Liam. We offer our condolences to his family, friends, protegés, households, Kingdom, and everyone in the Known World who knew him. His friends are legion.
A memorial article was posted at the link below on our sister publication, the East Kingdom Gazette.
On Saturday, September 28, THLord Cynwulf Rendell was too ill to travel to the Harvest Raid event in the Shire of Heronter, where he was scheduled to be elevated to the Order of the Pelican for his work in the thrown weapons and archery communities. So that morning King Timothy, together with a group of Rendell’s friends and peers, instead drove over an hour to Rendell’s home in the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael to bestow the Pelican upon him there, and also to induct Rendell’s lady, Eleanore Godwin, into the Order of the Millrind. There were tears and laughter and many words of praise for Rendell’s kindness, generosity, and service.
The following day, Master Rendell’s son, Lord Gawin Hawkseye, posted this announcement to Facebook:
Dear friends, family, and supporters of our house. Last evening at 4:30pm Master Cynwulf Rendell passed on from this world to the next. His day was filled with words from his friends and gifts from his loved ones. It was a day of a house full of people that have supported the love of his art and strength and goodness of his character, and in turn he showed his devotion to the group. We thank you for making his final day so special.
Master Rendell and his family joined the SCA in the Shire of Heronter in 1994. He was immediately interested in archery and thrown weapons, becoming a marshal in short order, eventually taking on the role of Kingdom Thrown Weapons Marshal. He traveled around the Kingdom, organizing and running lines and training
Duchess Dorinda Courtenay:
Rendell served as the Heronter archery marshal from the time he joined us until they moved. Every week he brought all the targets and loaner equipment for a half dozen people. He spent so much time teaching during the practice that he had to come early to get in a round for himself. He and his lady and his son also helped during the reigns of Cygnus and Dorinda. They took some time off, but for the last 5 or so years, he came back to run archery at Harvest Raid. Each year he created unique and fun shoots for people of all skill levels. He worked to train others, and even agreed to serve as our archery marshal, but his health did not allow it. We will miss him very much.
Lady Simonetta d’Alfasi:
I only met Rendell a few years ago; he and his lady wife joined about the time I took my extended break. When Siobhan and I came back to the SCA in 2016, our first event was Baronial Champs. Rendell was running thrown weapons and archery. He was very kind to Siobhan’s child, showing them how to hold the axe and where to stand to throw it. I was impressed with his patience. The following week we all went off to archery, and once again Rendell was patient with me and showed me how to get most of the arrows down range and not into my feet. Time passed, I got better and Rendell began to teach me how to make targets, how to run a range, how to inspect bows, and how to marshal. I think he was as proud as I was surprised when I was awarded my Golden Alce. Every milestone reached by any of his Hounds made him as proud as if we were all his children. It’s why we all called him Papa Hound.
Mistress Anna Eisenkopf:
When he was Kingdom Thrown Weapons Marshall almost 20 years ago, he traveled everywhere and was pivotal in the growth of thrown weapons at that time.
Master Jacopo di Niccolo:
We often sat and shared information about our ranges and frequently this developed into new and fun ranges. He loved to challenge himself and others.
Baron Rhiannon Elandris of Glyndyfrdwy on the Rhydderich Hael Facebook group:
My heart is torn in half. He was a kind and gentle man who was a great teacher, a role model for us all. He will be sorely missed. We have lost a great light, so we must shine all the brighter ….all of us…Together. I see where some now doubt that they have a place. Everyone in the Hael has a place. Do not doubt. Do not let the weasels overcome the promise that He saw in each and every one of us (yes Rendell, you were right). I know we can strive to fulfill those beliefs…Together.
Fair skies, Rendell. Soft winds to you and a stout string to your bow.
Baron Edward Harbinger:
I remember his fun side. At one event we were sitting together and decided that Lady Simonetta’s stuffed rabbit needed a bow. We set about looking for materials and came up with a wooden coffee stir stick and a piece of string. We next needed to see if the bow would actually work, so we broke some toothpicks in half and tried to shoot them, at objects around the hall. Our wives found us doing this and told us we were not allowed to sit together anymore (especially during court). The stuffed rabbit still carries that bow, if I’m not mistaken.
THLady Máirghréad Stíobhard inghean uí Choinne:
It was my greater pleasure to benefit from his sage and ever humorous instruction in thrown weapons. This goes back to about 2009. Not only were his tips clear and true and simple, but his declaration to my sister to “just throw like you are aiming at your husband” has given us many belly laughs!
Master Juan Miguel Cezar:
Due to his health the elevation was not able to happen at Harvest Raid and His Majesty along with a small entourage went to his house. When they came back one of them brought me a small beanie baby that Rendell wanted to give to my daughter. Sadly she was not with me since she was on her way back from Myrtle Beach with my parents and by the time she got home Sunday evening he had already passed. I wanted so bad to take a photo of her with it and send it to him as thanks. His last thoughts were of others, just like he was in life.”
Mistress Sadira spoke at Rendell’s Pelican ceremony on behalf of the Order of the Laurel, She graciously shared her words:
I am Sadira bint Wassouf, Mistress of the Laurel and Pelican, 6th Jewel of Æthelmearc, Second and Eighth Baroness of Thescorre. But today I would speak about Rendell for the Laurels. Sort of…
Rendell is unquestionably an artist. Martial arts are called arts for a reason. The flight of an arrow or a throwing knife is art in motion with a satisfying THUNK at the end. And when Rendell shoots, there is joy in his eyes. Whether designing ranges and targets, whether shooting or watching others, the passion of youth has never left him. And the true heart of art is passion.
But where does art end and service begin?
I suspect that Rendell was born with service in his very soul. Some people do service, but Rendell is service. I only became fully aware of his service when I stepped up as Baroness the second time. Now, if you are ever stupid enough (I mean, lucky enough) to become a landed Baron or Baroness, you need to know that about 45 seconds after you don the coronet, a “thing” happens. The “thing” makes you want to say “REALLY??? NOW???”
But this time the “thing” impacted archery and even with all of my skills as a counselor and teacher, I could not even figure out what the “thing” was – much less untangle it. Archery in Thescorre was at a complete impasse.
Finally, in desperation I crashed a meeting of Kingdom archery marshals at a winter event and explained the “thing” as best I could. I asked bluntly, “What can you do for me?”
Without hesitation, Rendell said, “I will help you.” Now, we hear these words all the time, but something in his tone made me believe.
That spring, Rendell showed up at the first archery practice, and he kept coming back for months and months.
We have only one truly precious possession in this life and that is TIME. Rendell showered us with his time, poured out with reckless abandon, with patience and joy in his eyes.
So where does service end and art begin?
It is an art to bring people together, to teach your art and see the joy of a child bloom in their eyes – then set them free to pass it on.
In Rendell art and service meld seamlessly and when that happens, the Great Dream we all hope to live in the SCA comes true.
My peer? I suspect we would all have to work very hard to become his peer.
In addition to the Pelican, Master Rendell was recognized with many Kingdom and Baronial awards for excellence and skill, including the White Horn for thrown weapons, the Scarlet Guard for archery, the Cornelian for courtesy, and awards from three baronies in recognition of his service including to groups in which he did not live.
Ralph Spencer was a copy machine repairman. He is survived by his wife, THLady Eleanore Godwin, and his son, Lord Gawin Hawkseye. No funeral services will be held; THLady ELeanore announced there will be a Celebration of Life for Rendell on November 10 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm at the Wrights Corners Firehall, 4043 Lake Avenue, Lockport, NY 14094. Doors open at 12:30pm for set up. Pastor Tom will speak at 1:15pm and there will be an open mic after for folks to share stories, laughs, and love.
Food will be pot luck, no kitchen use, just the sink. Bring your own dishes.