Archive for January 2020

Two Friends, Gone at age 56

January 26, 2020

A long life these days means you live to be… what? 80 years old? Both my parents lived beyond 90. In fact, my mom’s still going. But even now there are people who die when you don’t expect it, and it happened to two men I knew. One I knew very well and the other, I knew well enough to feel the shock.

Albert Webster. RIP.

Albert Webster and Kevin Wilson both died in January 2020 at the age of 56. I’ll start with Albert Webster, who I knew best.

Albert was a New Yorker. His dad had a long career with the New York Philharmonic and Albert also went into the business of managing the performing arts. He worked backstage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and moved to Minnesota, where he eventually became the stage manager of A Prairie Home Companion.

The last time I saw Albert, he was at a distance. I was in the audience in a big auditorium and he was walking across the stage at a performance in San Diego of “Live from Here,” or maybe it was still called a Prairie Home Companion. I can’t recall. I’m sorry I didn’t go backstage to say hi to him.

Albert died in January of a pulmonary embolism. It’s a blood clot that gets in your lungs.

I got to know Albert through his wife Kristina, and I got to know his wife through my wife Karen, who went to law school with Kristina at the University of Minnesota.

I spent a long time thinking about Albert before I could write a sympathy card to Kristina. And I thought about Albert’s generosity and his calm, peaceful nature.

I thought about the time he came to my house in Minneapolis and helped me install a dishwasher when I was terrified of connecting the electrical circuits. When Albert was involved in a project you knew things were going to be okay. I thought of him visiting us in San Diego and talking to my son when he was a toddler.

Kevin Wilson I knew less well. But he seemed to be a kind soul who reminded me of Albert. He was my mailman for many years and I remember seeing his tall, thin frame approaching my house then continuing along the block. He and I spoke frequently when we realized we were both bike enthusiasts.

And that’s how Kevin died.

A resident of La Mesa, he was riding his bike on the morning of Martin Luther King Day when he was hit by a car, east of El Cajon. It was a hit and run. The CHP arrested a motorist, suspected of running into him. Kevin was pronounced dead at a hospital later that day. A news report said the guy driving the car was also 56.

Two men I knew died at the same age at virtually the same time. I might say ‘go figure’ but it can’t be understood or explained. The living have to move on when the dead are gone. We just try not to forget.