My two closest friends in college were fellow members of the Harvard class of '54, Michael Jorrin and Richard Eder. Mike was [and still is] a tall, handsome blond man with a big basso singing voice. Dick was a short, slender, wry, dark-haired man with a quirky sense of humor and a limp as the result of a childhood bout of polio. He sang tenor. I cannot recall how we met, but somehow we found one another as devotées of early music and formed a little trio to sing Elizabethan madrigals. We worked our way through a book of madrigals arranged for men's voices and would burst into song spontaneously whenever we met. Early on, we discovered that the tunnels connecting some of the Harvard houses had great acoustics. I recall with fondness our rendition of The Silver Swan.
I graduated a year early, and to commemorate the occasion, Mike and Dick bought me my very own copy of the Critique of Pure Reason [I was at that point too strapped for funds to own one and used the library copy.] I used it until it began to fall apart, at which point I had it re-bound. It sits on the shelf in my Paris apartment. The inscription reads, "To Bob, Each even line from Dick, Each odd line from Mike."
Dick got a job as a copyboy on the TIMES when he graduated, and rose from there to become an important foreign correspondent and then book reviewer. Later in life, when he had moved to the Los Angeles TIMES, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his book reviews. He was married for his entire adult life to his childhood sweetheart, Esther, with whom he had seven children.
The NY TIMES today carries the obituary of Richard Eder, who died yesterday at 82. He was an extraordinary man, a gifted man, and with Michael Jorrin, a bright light of my undergraduate days. I was deeply saddened by the word of his passing.