Monday, May 3, 2010

On the Passing of a Friend

Today I was stunned, deeply, to learn of the passing of a friend and fellow professor, Gary Hatch, whom I have known close to 30 years. He was only 46. A pulmonary embolism took his life suddenly last Saturday. It is eerie to me that on that very day I was researching embolisms and other pulmonary problems as I was writing another sonnet. The casual tone of that poem is far from my feelings today. Gary and I shared many interests, and I deeply respected the way he conducted his life with so much enthusiasm, kindness, and interest in the well-being of others. Thank you, Gary. We won't forget.

in memory of Gary Hatch (pictured here with his wife, AnneMarie)

On the Passing of a Friend
by Gideon Burton

We live our lives with confidence that some
are living better. You were one of these
for us, alive to books and language, done
with lesser things, with better things more pleased;
a man of curiosity who shared
enthusiasms freely with us all,
whose even-tempered spirit never flared,
but steadied many far more apt to fall.
Somehow you stayed untouched by all the death
in life, untroubled by uncertainty,
devoting freely hand and heart and breath
to neighbor, colleague, student, family.
     We mourn and wonder, prizing fresh your time,
     while through the skies your gentle spirit climbs.


  1. Thank you for sharing. What a beautiful tribute.

  2. This is a beautiful poem that Gary himself would love

  3. I'm so sorry for your loss. He radiates in that picture. He looks like someone who's life, though short, was well lived.

  4. Such a shock. Your gift of writing and expressing yourself must surely be a balm for your pain.

  5. Thanks for truly immortal words for an immortal spirit. I loved Gary, he was an amazing person.

  6. It's sobering to hear of such a good life cut short. This is a beautiful tribute.