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



Thursday, October 08, 2009

Furniture Man at ACL

Click on the image to enlarge.