I learned late last night that author Paul Kropp died. I’m stunned. He was four years younger than I am, still in his 60s. Too young!
He was always so vibrant, so full of wit and heart and life that it’s impossible to imagine that he is no more. He was a wonderful writer. He wrote over sixty books, ran a publishing company, taught, travelled—and always, always, had time for a friend.
He’d been diagnosed with cancer only two months before. He posted a funny political clip to Facebook five days before he died. (The photo above is from his Facebook page.) My heart goes out to his family, his wife Lori, his three sons, his grandchildren, his wide network of friends. Everyone is simply shocked, without doubt.
He was/is—oh, these painful past tenses!—so very dear to my heart, someone I worked closely with for decades. He was the creator and primary author of Series Canada and Series 2000, more popularly known then as “the Paul Kropp” books.
The books were “High/Low”—High Interest, Low Vocabulary—aimed to lure reluctant teen readers into the magical realm of fiction. (And succeeded.) I was the free-lance editor hired by the publisher to make it happen. This was 1978, and I was pregnant with my first child when we were introduced at Collier Macmillan’s offices in Toronto. “Six months?” he said, taking in my profile. Exactly.
Together we published about eight books a year: scheduling became a fine art! In the first letter I got from him (this was before email—imagine), he included a detailed schedule for the year ahead. I wrote back that we were going to get along very, very well. And we did.
He became a good friend to me and my husband. We saw him and his family in Toronto, Mexico and Italy. After my husband and I moved to the country, he made visits from time to time with his boys. Funny, wise and witty, he was always a pleasure to be around.
I learned so much from him.
In his last email to me at the end of March, he wrote, with respect to the work we had done together decades before:
Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end.
How poignant, especially now.
Thank you, Paul, for everything.
Paul’s obituary notice in the Toronto Globe & Mail today, concluded:
“A memorial service will be held on September 1st at 11:00 a.m. at Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen Street East, Toronto. Those wishing to commemorate Paul’s life in some way are invited to make a donation to Metropolitan United Church or the Canadian Cancer Society and to vote NDP in the coming election.”
The last words are perfect. I can just hear his effervescent chuckle.