Following the advice of my father (Princeton ’53), I have read every inch of the New York Times obituary section — famous and not-so-famous — since I was a teen. (He warned, “The worst thing you can do in business is ask a client about their family, only to discover that one of them died.”) I have saved many of the most memorable “characters” I discovered there, recently transforming them into an oral history podcast (“Indelible”), recounting their lives through the voices of those who knew and loved them.
Throughout this time and all these readings, no one writer captured my imagination and confirmed my lust for life more than Douglas Martin *74 (“The Dead Beat,” February issue). If there was a Pulitzer for short form biography, he would have taken it, many times. One of my favorites of his many lines was the one he mentioned about Selma Koch, former owner of the beloved Upper West Side undergarment emporium, The Town Shop. (“She was 95 and a 34B.”) I repeated this line to her loving son, Danny, when I profiled him for a New York City-based publication a few years ago. As his eyes welled up in remembrance, he mumbled how much his mother would have appreciated the nod. I kept thinking: “I wish Douglas were here to enjoy this.”
Douglas, you have wrested so much life from death. I can’t imagine who will be able to do justice to your own journey when the time comes!