In the course of everything else that happened today, I managed to completely blank on something very important - probably because I didn't really want to dwell on it. My friend and one-time employer, Rory Root, fell into a coma and died on Monday.
Paul Levitz of DC Comics remembers Rory here; the comments are well worth reading, too. As Jim Friel notes, Rory wasn't always easy to work with, but there was no malice in him, and he cared deeply about his employees, his customers, and getting good comics into the hands of those who would appreciate them. When I graduated from college into the wake of the dot-com collapse, Rory gave me a chance when other potential employers wouldn't even look twice at me. The trust and confidence that Rory had in my intelligence and personal integrity was sometimes humbling, as when I handled sizable cash drops for him at San Diego Comic Con (which I continued to do for several years after leaving Berkeley). I doubt that I would be where I am today if I hadn't known Rory and been given the opportunities to learn and grow that I had over the course of our acquaintance.
I'm not really sure what else there is I can say - I hadn't talked to Rory in several years before hearing the news today, both because I'd moved on to graduate school and full-time employment and because he was almost never in the store when I visited Berkeley. While his passing doesn't come as a shock, Rory's loss diminishes the worlds of American comics and fandom in general. Ave atque vale, Rory. You will be missed.