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Ken Gregg’s family tragedy


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#1 Ross Barlow

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 12:15 AM

I am posting this here in case some OL members know Ken Gregg. He has experienced (another) family tragedy and I am sure he would appreciate hearing from old friends.

His 14 year old daughter was killed by a hit-and-run driver on October 12. Four years ago, Ken’s son was killed in an accident. This family has suffered more than I can imagine.

I do not know Ken personally, but his writing on intellectual history and classical liberalism is phenomenal. Check out his blog at:
http://classicallibe...sm.blogspot.com

Apparently Ken attended NBI classes in New York in 1967 and 1968, and he has been around Objectivist and libertarian circles for decades. So it is possible that some of you know him well. I do not like to be the bearer of bad news, but his friends could really be helpful to him now.

-Ross Barlow.
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for the Misty Mountains."
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#2 Chris Grieb

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 02:44 AM

Ken Gregg's story is very sad. I sorry to say I don't recognize the name from my NBI days. I hope he gets thru this awful mess.

#3 Kat

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 07:33 PM

I am sorry to hear about Ken's situation. It is truly tragic. We send our support and well wishes. Stay strong, Ken.

Kat

#4 Kenneth R Gregg

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 11:53 PM

I am sorry to hear about Ken's situation. It is truly tragic. We send our support and well wishes. Stay strong, Ken.

Kat

Thanks to all of you for your concerns. Right now I'm working on Elizabeth's obituary. I feel as though I've walked through some door into an alternate universe. Everything is askew, as though the angles are just slightly off in some indeterminable way. I'm hoping to find the door back.

It's very hard. I never was able to get over the death of my son four years ago, and now this.

Just Ken
Just a thought.
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#5 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 16 October 2006 - 11:55 PM

Ken,

I saw that you just joined OL. I have been skimming your blog to get to know you better before commenting on this terrible news, but since you are here, please accept our deepest condolences. I don't speak for everybody, but I know I speak for many. Our most profound sympathies are with you and your family.

Michael

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#6 Barbara Branden

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 02:56 AM

Ken, I know I cannot begin to understand the depth of your loss. The closest I have ever come to it was the sudden death of my brother; but the most well-loved brother is not one's child. I don't think we ever fully recover from such tragedies, but perhaps we find a way to live with them, so that finally the sense of an insane universe leaves us. I wish you well, and I wish you peace. All my sympathies are with you.

Barbara

#7 James Heaps-Nelson

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 11:56 PM

Ken,

I am profoundly saddened to hear of your loss. I lost my father to illness when I was 9 years old. It took years to come to a real sense of closure, but in time I found that the only thing I could do was cherish the remaining people in my life. I wish you the best at this dreadful time and extend my heartfelt condolences.

Jim

#8 Kenneth R Gregg

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Posted 28 October 2006 - 10:18 PM

It's been difficult, these past two weeks. We've just gotten Elizabeth's ashes and her death certificate, and are trying to go through her things. Her first formal dance (Homecoming) was the Saturday before her death (she was fourteen) and excited about life and the things she was doing. Elizabeth was active in her high school's marching band and very involved, as we all were, in events surrounding the adoption community here in Las Vegas.

I founded and ran a men's group for parenting adopted children for many years, but when my son was killed four years ago, I let several friends of my take over their events, but Elizabeth and I continued to help put together picnics and fairs for adopted children. Elizabeth was always good at helping to set up the tables and help take down everything after the events. She was a "baby magnet" and would hold all of the babies at the parties. I have dozens of pictures of her holding and taking care of babies. She was already well-known at her high school (this was her first year), and enormously popular in adoption circles here.

I must admit that I had high expectations for her, both in high school and afterwards. She was a natural leader. She also wanted a large family for herself when she grew up.

We had to break up the services to allow all of the teens and adults to attend. There were about 400-450 kids at the Youth Service and about 100 at the regular service. I spoke at the regular service and we had a priest, a pastor and a minister there reflecting on her accomplishments.

I miss her terribly.
Just a thought.
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#9 Chris Grieb

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 05:38 AM

Your daughter sound like a very lovely person. I am sadden I will never get to meet her. Stay Strong.

#10 Ed Hudgins

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 10:58 AM

I'll add my heartfelt sympathies for your loss. Our capacity for great joy also means a capacity for pain at great losses. (I remember some of Rand's comments after her loss of Frank O'Connor.) I hope you continue to focus on the positive and the joy and beauty life does offer.

Ed Hudgins

#11 Ciro

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 12:27 AM

People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were traveling abroad. ~Marcel Proust

I want to extend my condolences.

Ciro.


#12 Chris Grieb

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 05:29 AM

Ciro; Thank you for that lovely quote. I have not read Proust but he might bear some looking into. Thank you!

#13 Ciro

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 07:56 AM

Chris, he is best known for Á LA RECHERCHE DU TEMPS PERDU (Remembrance of Things Past),

Ciao.

#14 Chris Grieb

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 06:21 AM

Ciro; One of the reason I haven't read Proust is I keep remembering a quote that life is too short and Proust is too long.

#15 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 11:49 AM

Ken,

Thank you for keeping us posted. Elizabeth sounds like she was a wonderful young woman and the world is now a poorer place without her.

I wish serenity for you and your family and hope you find it.

Michael

Know thyself...


#16 Kenneth R Gregg

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 06:34 PM

When my son, James (5/11/76-7/7/02), was killed by a drunk driver four years ago, I gave to those who attended his funeral the following from Thomas Paine's Age of Reason, Part II:

We have not in all cases the same form, nor in any case the same matter that composed our bodies twenty or thirty years ago; and yet we are conscious of being the same persons. Even legs and arms, which make up almost half the human frame, are not necessary to the consciousness of existence. These may be lost or taken away, and the full consciousness of existence remain; and were their place supplied by wings, or other appendages, we cannot conceive that it would alter our consciousness of existence.
In short, we know not how much, or rather how little, of our composition it is, and how exquisitely fine that little is, that creates in us this consciousness of existence; and all beyond that is like the pulp of a peach, distinct and separate from the vegetative speck in the kernel.
Who can say by what exceedingly fine action of fine matter it is that a thought is produced in what we call the mind? And yet that thought when produced, as I now produce the thought I am writing, is capable of becoming immortal, and is the only production of man that has that capacity.
Statues of marble or brass will perish; and statues made in imitation of them are not the same statues, nor the same workmanship, any more than the copy of a picture is the same picture. But print and reprint a thought a thousand times over, and that with materials of any kind – carve it into wood or engrave it in stone, the thought is eternally and identically the same thought in every case. It has a capacity of unimpaired existence, unaffected by change of matter, and is essentially distinct and of a nature different from everything else that we know or can conceive.
If, then, the thing produced has in itself a capacity of being immortal, it is more than a token that the power that produced it, which is the selfsame thing as consciousness of existence, can be immortal also; and that as independently of the matter it was first connected with, as the thought is of the printing or writing it first appeared in. The one idea is not more difficult to believe than the other, and we can see that one is true.
--Thomas Paine, Age of Reason Part II

It is a rational understanding of how persons live on, in the memory and hearts of those who are close to the deceased. My father-in-law, a Methodist minister, was rather surprised to see such in Paine's writings and I urged him to look further into Paine. For the religious, freethinkers are not supposed to be concerned with such matters, and it is always a surprise when we demonstrate such normal, humane concerns. It is as though such is the sole property of religion, and it is clearly not, as you are aware.

This is one of the reasons why I appreciate discussions of "spirituality" among objectivists. This is an entire aspect of humanity which objectivism needs to incorporate within the sense of life which is part of objectivism.

My eulogy for James Roger Gregg delivered on 7/14/02 was as follows:

First of all, I want to thank all of you for coming. James would have appreciated this.
Here I come full circle with my son, James Roger Gregg. He was the same age I was when he was born, 26, at the time of his death. I was there at his beginning, an apartment on East Willow here in Long Beach, California, at about 5:30 in the morning when he was born, also the time of his death. It was quiet at the moment of his birth when I caught him and cut the umbilical cord. There were two midwives attending. The light was just beginning to come through the window. I remember the smell of the room, the excitement I had, for here was my son. It was the best experience of my life.
I treasured every moment with him, and loved him, cared for him, and took responsibility for him. We were joined at the hip, so to speak, until he was a teenager. We went everywhere together—to the beach, on bicycle rides, on trips. If I gave a lecture, he was there in the back of the room drawing or reading. If I was home reading, he was there. I fed him, changed his diapers, took him to school, talked to his teachers—all of the things a father does for his son.
He was very special to me, and any who saw us together knew we had a close bond perhaps as close as any father and son could be. I was there as he grew and changed, when he learned so many new things about the world and himself. We would talk and talk and talk. When he did something right, we would talk. When he did something wrong, we would talk. Sometimes I think he would have preferred a spanking than some of our talks after he did something wrong. But we would always talk.
Sometimes things happen that are a mystery, some are good, some not. Thomas Paine said in The Age of Reason Part I that:

“…everything we behold is, in one sense, a mystery to us. Our own existence is a mystery…We cannot know how it is that an acorn, when put into the ground, is made to develop itself and become an oak. We know not how it is that the seed we sow unfolds and multiplies itself, and returns to us such an abundant interest for so small a capital.”

James was my “abundant interest.” He filled my life with joy and happiness, even when he didn’t realize it. I am so proud of him. He is still here in my thoughts and my heart, and will always be there, even though I now can’t talk to him on the phone, or look forward to visiting with him. He is still here for my family in their thoughts and hearts as well, his sisters, Elizabeth and Katherine, my wife, Debbie—his stepmother, and the rest of our family, here and elsewhere. James will always be here, even though his life was taken by a drunk driver.
There are so many things I have to thank him for, that I can hardly begin--things like showing me the strength that comes from parenting, the power of love, the joy of family. These my father introduced me to, but only by having my son here did I come to understand them fully.
Thank you, son-son. When he was younger, and often even now when we would talk on the phone we would end with “hug, kiss, nose-y, nose-y, glasses, glasses” just as something special that only we would say to each other. Thank you, my son.
I love you.

His mother left us when he was six months old and I raised him by myself until he was a teenager and I had married my wife. We adopted two wonderful girls, Katherine and Elizabeth, when they were 1-1/2 and 3, respectively, and have loved them and cherished them ever since.

On my next post, I will give you Elizabeth's eulogy which I delivered Saturday before last.
Just a thought.
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#17 Chris Grieb

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 12:47 AM

Ken; Thank you so much! The only item of freethinker thought dealing with death I had read before was Ingersoll's speech at his brother's grave but thank you so much for the Paine quote. The material about your son is great also.

#18 Ellen Stuttle

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 11:43 PM

I haven't said anything up till now on this thread, and it's been gnawing at me that I haven't said anything. I haven't known what to say, and still don't know, beyond: I am so very sorry for a grief of that magnitude. I think that I understand the magnitude due to family tragedies in my own past. I lost two of my brothers to their committing suicide in the early '70s, when they were in their early '20s. The kind of grief that comes from such untimely deaths of loved ones is a wound more lacerated than that which comes from the death of a beloved one in the fullness of age -- though the latter kind of death can hurt profoundly, too. I'm just saying that I think I understand the terribleness of it, and I hope with all my heart that the ragged edges of the wound will mend as time goes on.

Ellen

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#19 Pam Maltzman

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 09:33 PM

For anyone here who knows or knew Ken Gregg...

I just briefly spoke with him this evening.

Many years ago, we were a couple for about three years, and I also knew James well (I was, in effect, his stepmom for that time). I ended the relationship, but have always considered him a friend, and I have always wished him well; in fact, I attended his wedding to Debbie.

Ken, Debbie, and James moved out of So. California to Las Vegas, Nevada.

As has been reported here, James was killed some years ago by a drunk driver at the age of 26. The perp was apprehended but never even arrested.

Ken and Debbie adopted two little girls (full sisters), the younger one of whom was also killed about 1-1/2 years ago in Las Vegas by a hit-and-run driver (never been found, AFAIK).

All this tragedy has taken its toll on Ken, physically, spiritually, and every way possible.

He has been in home hospice for about the last year with end-stage congestive heart failure. Just talking is an effort for him. He can no longer type or even read.

I can't express how sorry I am that so much tragedy has happened to a good man and his wife and family.



Pam Maltzman

#20 Chris Grieb

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 06:38 AM

Reading the last post makes it hard to believe in a benolovent universe.




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