In Memoriam: Eloquent Writer Who Chronicled Own Dying

dudley clendenin

Dudley Clendinen and his daughter Whitney in 2007

I shouldn’t have been surprised but I still gasped with sadness this morning when I saw the May 30 obituary on Maryland Morning’s Website:

The writer and journalist Dudley Clendinen died today in Baltimore after a year and a half long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Dudley worked as a reporter and editorial writer for The New York Times, and was the author of several books, including Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America, on the evolution of the gay rights movement, and A Place Called Canterbury: Tales of the New Old Age in America. He remained in his home until he was moved to hospice care at the Joseph Richey House earlier today. He was 67 years old.

Dudley was open about his experience with terminal illness, both in the op-ed pages of The Times, and on Maryland Morning, where he spoke about the disease in a series of interviews with Tom Hall called “Living with Lou: Dudley Clendinen on a Good, Short Life.

Maryland Morning will post audio of a remembrance of Dudley later today. Its series was extraordinary, as was Dudley’s courage and style as he did it. We posted praise and excerpts of it here, here and here. One of my favorite quotes: “Life gets so quirky and interesting when you’re dying.” Dudley was writing a book about the end of his life; I hope he got close enough to finishing it, and though I don’t know of any official post-mortem instructions, plan to buy many copies of it when it comes out, in lieu of flowers…

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