Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sad news...

I received an email last night with a shocking, unexpected message. My friend Harry Diavatis passed away in his sleep Monday night. Harry was 72 or 73, gone way too soon. Among his many accomplishments, Harry was the editor/publisher of the Monday Update, a weekly electronic newsletter.

Which is to say, he created an institution.

It is hard to overstate the impact that Harry's Monday Update has had on old Vallejoans. So many of us reconnected with our roots and renewed childhood friendships as a result of Harry's efforts. He once told me it took -- on average -- forty hours a week to put the MU together. Where he found the energy, the passion, and the love to do it, week after week for more than a decade, we'll never know.

I've published four books now, and Harry's name appears on the Acknowledgements page in every one. Here is the paragraph from Like a Flower in the Field:

Perhaps you noticed the number of stories with the acknowledgement "from Monday Update." The editor/publisher, Harry Diavatis, took me under his wing in 2009 and has been publishing my work ever since. His fine weekly newsletter reaches more than 1,500 subscribers in all corners of the U.S. and as far away as Belize, Australia, and New Zealand. Thanks, Harry, for everything you do.

The Monday Update would typically "drop" every Sunday evening. A message would pop up in the Inbox with a link that would open the new edition. Here is a poem I wrote about anticipating the MU:

It's Sunday evening again
and I'm waiting anxiously
for the Monday Update to arrive--
all those pictures and stories
and news of old friends,
perhaps a verse from Mr. Collins,
the ARA from John Parks,
even a photo of Hank McGraw!
And through it all rings
the voice of Harry D,
the tie that binds, crusader
for righteous causes, his heart
on his sleeve, his checkbook
in hand. Where would we be
without him? I know Sunday
evenings would never be the same.

Where would we be without him? It's too soon, Harry. We were not ready to find out.