Friday, October 23, 2009

Edward Fales Alexander



Last Saturday morning, while enjoying the fine sheets and comfort of our XV Beacon Street Hotel room, we received a phone call from a close friend in Austin. "Ed is dead", she said. "How", we asked? Somehow, this Billy Goat of the high mountains and Jedi Master of dark dangerous caves had managed to hit his head while entering the relative tranquil waters of the Medina River.

Here is the obituary that will likely end up in the papers this weekend. It's a product of several contributors. I edited it slightly:

Edward Fales Alexander was an extraordinary person and a special friend to each and all who knew and loved him. His sudden, tragic passing on October 17, 2009, leaves a void in the rich tapestry he wove during his much too short but brilliantly traveled journey.

Ed never met a stranger. And together, he and his beloved wife Brigit joyfully welcomed all comers to their enchanted homes in Real de Catorce, Mexico and Austin, Texas. Ed had more friends than there are stars in the Texas sky and all who were blessed to have known him are better, happier people for the experience.

Ed was born in Amarillo, Texas on November 25, 1942. He loved his Lone Star roots, a favorite topic for his endless tales. He graduated from Vanderbilt University and received a graduate degree in Physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1968.

Ed was always in the middle of fun, ever the kindest and most cantankerous of the bunch, at once a shining light on your shoulder and a practical man of the earth. A traveler at heart, he trotted the globe the way some people walk around the block.

In the early ‘70s, he drove across the Sahara Desert with his longtime pal Charlie Loving, narrowly avoiding being held captive by a group of spear wielding locals. Ed traveled the road from Austin to Real de Catorce and back with his family and friends many times. If night fell and they were tired, they would pull off the road, put down their sleeping bags and sleep under the stars. Sometimes, he would take the three hours to stop in Bustamante just to get fresh pecans.

On one trip around Mexico, Ed met and fell in love with Brigit, whom he soon married. Of his adventures, perhaps Ed loved those involving caves most of all. He fell in with a circle of spelunkers in 1964 and those adventurers remained friends to the end, with him at the Austin Cavers reunion camping on the Medina River in Paradise Canyon the night he died.

Before moving back to Austin in 2008, Ed lived for twelve years in Real de Catorce, Mexico. Ed continued to explore, traveling and camping around Mexico and hiking the Sierra Catorce Range with family and friends and his dog, Cleo. He would load up the red Izuzu Trooper with Brigit and put his daughter Mimi on top with Cleo running behind as they climbed up the rugged mountain roads to scenic and wonderful places.

If Luc found a snake in the road, Ed would pick it up and everyone would have a good look and then later Ed would preserve the snake in the freezer for later dissections with the kids. Learning was an every day adventure at the Alexander home.

Ed’s children, Thomas, Mimi and Luc—kind, compassionate, and curiosity-filled—are a testament to the great care and tremendous love Ed poured into them.

Ed had so many special memories with so many friends that the stories and the names can’t possibly all be noted. It would take ten books to capture just the highlights of Ed Alexander, a legend in his time.

Ed was preceded in death by his parents Kleim and Myrtle Alexander and his brother Charles. He is survived by his wife Brigit, daughter Mimi and sons Thomas and Luc; nephew Chuck and niece Susanne.Vaya con dios, Eduardo.

We already miss you so much.

A celebration of Ed's life will be held in Austin on a date and place to be determined. Friends are encouraged to bring a picture, a written memory or a memento to be included in a book for his family to keep."

Ed was like a brother to me. Even though we only became close in the last 9 years, we had been acquainted for almost 35. On Monday night, after spending time with Brigit and Luc and the others who had gathered in his incompleted house renovation there at his sprawling Riverside Farms, I came home to find that The Mexican was on one of the movie channels.

We watched, and in a few minutes, there was Ed in that white suit snoozing in that rocking chair waiting for his passport. Not too many of us get immortalized on the silver screen.

Even fewer deserve it.

Ed most certainly, definitely did.

And that passport apparently came in


.

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14 Comments:

Blogger a-muse-d said...

Thank you, Michael,
You wrote a lovely eulogy for a friend so well loved by so many. I'll never forget how glad I was to see Ed when I went to Real de Catorce for that fine Thanksgiving weekend adventure and birthday party for five in 2003. After 14 hours on the bus from TX Ed must have known it was scheduled to arrive and he had set out to find me. I was the last one to show up and he made me feel so welcomed. He graciously ushered me to his house where the whole group was assembled. We were treated to four days of fine parties. I will never forget what a great host Ed Alexander was, then and since.
Thank you for expressing our feelings for him so beautifully.
Best,
Frances Morey

3:09 PM  
Blogger Charlie Loving said...

Ed was one of a kind you knew that the minute you met him. He was stubborn and had his opinion and he never suffered fools except the ones who were his friends. I met Ed at the entrada to Grutas del Palimito in the dark of the night a mile above the desert. There were three of us carrying a case of beer up the goat path and he was coming out of the cave. "Oh, I see you brought the beer." was his greeting and we were friends for life from that point on. And it was a wonderful ride.
With love
Charlie Loving

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Edward Alexander was an extraordinary person and a special friend to all who knew, or loved him. His sudden, tragic passing on October 17, 2009, a dive into the Medina, ended a life brilliant as a Huichol beaded egg. His life a too short, but spectacular, meteoric journey.

3:44 PM  
Blogger memo said...

I don't know why I was privileged enough to be Ed's friend, but I'm glad I was. Wherever you went with Ed it was always an adventure and magic was at hand. He was at once wise and young at heart. I will miss him and when the wind comes up off the desert I will feel his spirit.
Hasta la vista Ed,
Bill Gassiot

5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. It is really hard to lose that kind of friend.
Best,

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met Ed only a few times so his death is more painful to me than I can account for. DC

9:01 AM  
Blogger oZ said...

Here are some of the comments from the Statesman site:

October 26, 2009
With all the love and gratitude I can give, thank you for being with us. You and your family have touched my life and the countless lives of so many for the better and you will be well remembered and sorely missed. My heart goes out to your family and all who share this huge loss. You are a tall oak to fall.
~ Natalie Lake, Austin, Texas

October 26, 2009
Ed has been a dear neighbor for over 25 years. Like everyone else, I'm in shock at his passing. The road won't be the same without him, but I'm thankful for the memories over the years, and grateful that he brought Thomas, Brigit, Mimi & Luc into all our lives. So long, Neighbor...
~ Pat Grigadean, Austin, Texas

October 26, 2009
I am so shocked and sad to hear of Ed's passing. He truly was a really cool and loving kind of guy. I only knew him for a couple of years, but he was so easy to get to know. Always warm and cheerful. I really enjoyed his company and wish nothing but the best for his long journey into the spirit world. I wish his family much peace, and condolences. You are blessed to have had him if only for a moment, but your memories and love for him will be with you forever. May you be comforted to know you have a wonderful angel who now watches over all of you.
~ Yvette Mendez, Austin, Texas

October 26, 2009
I am so saddened to hear about Ed and am wishing love and comfort to his family. I like to think of Dad eager to share all the new explorations with his dear friend. Clark Santos loved and cared for Ed Alexander very much.
~ Bevin Santos, Los Angeles, California

9:09 AM  
Blogger oZ said...

And here are five more:

October 26, 2009
I miss you Ed, your good humour and all the rides we had together, truck, horse, cadillac a.s.o from Austin to R14 & around. Thanks for sharing all this.
~ Laurent Zylberman, Paris

October 25, 2009
Ed has been a part of my constellation of friends for as long as I can remember. He was my parent's friend and later mine. He was my calculus tutor in college (talk about the patience of Job...) and the first person to call me after hearing that my dad died. He was one of the kindest and most generous people it has been my good fortune to know.
~ Candace Martin-O'Connor, Fort Collins, Colorado

October 25, 2009
I met Ed over tirty years ago when I moved to Austin; he became a friend immediately. I had not seen him in 20 years, but by chance we crossed paths at party in Austin this past September. I was greeted with a smile and a warm "abrazo". The friendship had never faded. His legacy reached beyond his children, it will continue in the hearts of all who knew him.
~ Mike Gonzales, San Antonio, Texas

October 25, 2009
Ed was a good friend and fun guy to be around. We caved in Mexico, Hiked in Big Bend, and generally had fun hanging out with mutual friends.

Ed and I were together for our first visit to Real de Catorce in 1972 and had interesting discussions about the community after Ed was living there in later years.

His untimely death is a loss we will not fully recover from.

We are diminished.

Carl Kunath (San Angelo, TX)

October 25, 2009
What a unique guy Ed was...he will be long missed.
~ artly snuff, austin, Texas

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Claudia Torres (Real de Catorce) said...

Dear Ed, the beautiful and special being that your were on Earth, always guided by a beautiful star, leaves in this plane the deep essence of your knowledge and of your contact with nature.

I am sure that you are happy in the celestial realm where you keep watching and caring for us. Be sure that we miss your Light Presence and that we all remember you as a free spirit.

9:20 AM  
Blogger James said...

We met Ed, Brigit, Mimi and Luc when we visited Real De Catorce in 2006. We have never forgotten the fun times we had while we stayed next door to them for 3 months. We have ever since longed to return and are saddened to now know, that when we eventually do, we won't be able to share another mescal with wonderful Ed. We have kept in touch with him from Australia and had hoped he would visit here one day with the family so we could return the hospitality he showed us. Our visit to Mexico was an important experience for us both and Ed was very much a part of that experience and we will always remember him! Melinda & Jamie

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to spend a day with Ed a few years back in Real de Catorce. He led a small group of us to Quemado. Our group dispersed slowly after a day at the mountain and Ed and I jogged all the way back to town. It was an exhilarating run trying to keep up with Ed. I'm happy that he passed through my life. Rest peacefully, Ed.

Love, Heather

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first time I met Ed (shortly after meeting you Michael), we all hiked up Quemado a few days before New Year's Eve. We watched the sun set and the full moon rise, and then headed down the mountain in silence. Along the way, we were blessed to witness a Huichol "coming of age" ceremony. Ed guided us so we could watch from a distance - knowing that our intrusion would be disruptive. Not to harbor regrets but I wish I had spent more time like this with Ed. What a phenomenal spirit.

9:19 PM  
Anonymous Michael Carrasco said...

Ed was a brilliant person with an infectious personality. He was like a sage uncle to me and I am sure many others as well. I was never afraid to be who I am and say exactly what was on my mind around him. He was pouring with charisma and general knowledge that was gained in his may globetrotting adventures.I just loved being around him because the most amazing stories would come out as well as gems of knowledge and wisdom. Even though we are quite a few years apart in age, I considered Ed to be one of my favorite people, and dearest friends of all time. It is hard to put these kind of feelings into words but I am desperately trying. I was talking to my roomate who is a member of a "normal Family" (chuckle). I was trying to explain to him how I felt about this and this is the story I told him. We were in Real De Catorce. Ed says it is the night when Luc was conceived, on new years eve wandering the streets from gathering to gathering. Most everybody else had gone to bed except my brother Rusty Ed and I. We were still partying strong. Walking down the street passing back and forth a bottle of mezcal that was purchased at the factory that made it.

sub story:

Trip to the mezcal factory:

We got lost on the way to the factory. We had to get directions from two different people on donkeys as to where this place was as it is not on any map.We had to use the password "Jose Villanueva" to get in, and drank mezcal out of a goat horn once we entered. before leaving we purchased 5 gallons of mezcal and stored it in a clear glass water container wich had a provisional lid as the original one was lost. Situated the tequila in the back of his suburban and headed back towards Real. Had a blowout on the way back to town in one of our vehicles...another sub story...

original story:

We partied all night and I woke up on the roof our hotel with a mexican girl that did not speak english as my family was asleep downstairs in the cozy room.

So basically, I told my roomate; I guess I don't know anyone else that I could say I have had that much fun being around. He always had a mischievous grin and was willing to try things that other people might have cowered away from because of their "normal" disposition.
Ed, we love you so much and you will be remembered with joy until I join you at the big party.
with love, your friend
Michael Carrasco

p.s. sorry if I was rambling and the writing is all over the place.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Bill Hood said...

Ed and I worked together at Espy-Houston in Austin many years ago. When I moved to Real de Catorce for a short time, we were reunited and became friends again.

As they say in Texas - It ain't bragging if it's the truth - although Ed was uniquely opinionated, he had every right to be. He was a brilliant man and we will miss him dearly! Vaya con Dios, mi Amigo!

3:58 PM  

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