Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Friday, April 05, 2013

Richard Spielmann R.I.P.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dear Janet,

Richard’s death brought back a flood of memories going back to 1948. I was at St. Paul’s School in Garden City when Richard’s high school baseball team came to play against us. Was it Flushing High? Richard was the manager of the team and his gravelly voice blasted out encouraging his team on to play excruciatingly well. They beat us goodly. 

Then there were the times we met at the fall high school conferences at Camp DeWolfe. Then I was a camper for two summers and he was on the work crew and you were a counselor. Later, I was water front director at camp for two summers and Richard was a counselor too. We played soft-ball, sang “O I’m a hayseed, my hair is seaweed....” Though always a bit plump, he was very fast on the bases and could hit the ball well. Richard was always smiling laughing, kidding around but then was so serious at the liturgies and MP and EP when we read it on the porch of the big house. He and I had our eyes out for the prettiest girls.

I was surprised and delighted when you and Richard became sweethearts and then engaged. I believe I was at your wedding but frankly I am not sure. It was a while ago.

Then we all wound up at GTS in a corps of married students. I knew Richard was competitive from our softball days. It became clear when he strove so hard to get good grades. I learned how to study from Richard. He got his papers done and handed in early and always on time. He read his assignments. I copied him in that. I bought books from him when he worked at the GTS bookstore.

I saw how thorough he was. We were asked what version of the Bible we would recommend to lay people. I wrote, the RSV and gave some reasons why. Richard chose his version and then gave five other versions and why he did not choose them. I learned to be more thorough in my work.

He was so proud when Katherine was born. I was honored to be a Godfather. Hmmm, some Godfather I turned out to be.

We gave some parties in your apartment at 300 West 23 St. Richard and I could make one fifth of whiskey quench the thirst of multitudes.

Laughter and fun was what I recollect about Richard at GTS. After seminary you went to Vermont, Richard got his doctorate in Church History and taught in Ohio and Rochester. I visited you there when I went to see George Barrett begging him not to resign as Bishop because he was divorcing Dee. To no avail. You both were so warm, friendly and hospitable as I was in despair at screwing up my marriage to LIllian. You showed me the bird feeder outside your kitchen window and had me watch them feed.

I was delighted by the story that the day he retired from teaching you were on the next plane to Tempe and a warm climate, at last.

I enjoyed two visits with you both in Tempe. Richard was clearly withdrawn and different from the man I knew. We took some walks and I had to prompt the conversation. We were in agreement on gay rights and rights of women. When I wanted to come again, you said it was best that I not come. I was sad but completely understood.

The two visits Ann and I had with Katherine and Bill and one time with Emily in SanFrancisco stand out as making new friends for us and connection to you and Richard going back these many years.

I hope when things settle down and you resume your travels you will come visit us in San Francisco.

With sadness and love,



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