Ned Stuckey-French - a Wonderful Friend, Classmate and Man

Ned Stuckey Smith was a classmate of mine in the West Lafayette Public Schools.   He was on the track team with me (he was a much better runner than I was), but we weren't friends.   He was popular as well as being an excellent student and athlete and nice guy.

I don't think that I ever saw him in person after he graduated from high school in 1968.    In recent years we connected through Facebook and email.   His political beliefs were quite similar to mine and we shared various things, mostly related to our respective political beliefs.

Knowing that he didn't have a long time to live, I reached out to him offering support May 19, 2019.   He responded kindly, with mild optimism about his hopes for medical improvement as well as telling me about a few things in his life.   

What follows is the very lengthy Memorial Blog entry that I have compiled at:  


Ned French

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Ned Stuckey-French Obituary


Elizabeth would like you to know that Ned's memorial service will be on Friday, September 27, on the Florida State University campus iThank you for the kind words and support you've shown Elizabeth, Flannery and Phoebe in recent days.Tallahassee, FL.
Further details will be forthcoming.

Love

Sara

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Ned Stuckey-French

Tallahassee - Ned Stuckey-French died peacefully Friday June 28, 2019 at his home in Tallahassee, Florida. He was surrounded by his loving wife Elizabeth and daughters Flannery and Phoebe.

Born in West Lafayette, Indiana Ned graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1972 and earned his master's degree from Brown University in 1992. In 1997 Ned earned his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He went on to become an Associate Professor at Florida State University and Director of the FSU Certificate Program in Publishing and Editing. Ned was a gifted teacher. He generously shared his talents, enriching the lives of students and colleagues. A prolific writer, Ned concentrated his professional efforts on personal essays and championed the essay as an art form. His efforts were instrumental in saving the University of Missouri Press. Many of Ned's works may be viewed at http://nedstuckeyfrench.com/.

During his life Ned was a devoted husband and proud father. He enjoyed the beauty of the world around him, whether in the woods, on the lake, on the running track or on the football field. Generous, kind and passionate about his convictions, ethics and political beliefs, Ned always appreciated a good laugh and Facebook conversation.

Ned was preceded in death by his father Charles French and his mother Dolores French. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth and his daughters Flannery and Phoebe, his brother Hugh French and his sisters Sara French and Paulette Murphy.
Published in Tallahassee Democrat on July 1, 2019
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My eldest brother, Ned Stuckey-French, died today, after a short and spirited battle with cancer. In addition to his siblings — Hugh French, Paulette Murphy and me — he is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, and two wonderful daughters, Flannery and Phoebe.Ned and Elizabeth both grew up in Lafayette, Indiana, but on opposite sides of town. They didn’t meet until much later, after they’d had adventures elsewhere and returned home to regroup. When they did finally meet — thanks to some extremely competent hometown matchmaking — they became engaged in record time!

Over subsequent decades they built tandem careers as English professors at Florida State University. Ned specialized in nonfiction, and Elizabeth continues to teach and write fiction.

I miss Ned dearly.

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For those of you who don't know, my father Ned Stuckey-French passed away this evening due to complications from bladder cancer that had spread to his liver. If you spent any amount of time with him, you knew he was something special. I tried today to think of someone who has ever once said a bad thing about my father and I truly cannot think of anyone who ever said anything negative about him. I debated making this post for a while but I know my dad loved Facebook, conversations, and the sharing of information. If I tried to list everything he has ever taught me I'd never stop writing. His deep love and wonderful relationship with my mother Elizabeth Stuckey-French showed me not to settle for anything less than a relationship like theirs. Their relationship will always serve as a model to me of what a caring, communicative, loving partnership looks like. The way he constantly encouraged my sister Phoebe French, myself, and many others to follow our dreams will forever stay with me. How he treated every single human he came into contact with with kindness and generosity is truly spectacular. A writer, a teacher, a reader, a father, an activist, a husband, a traveler, a homebody...my dad was all that and more. I know so many people are thinking of him tonight, and somehow I am certain that he is somewhere saying "Awwh shucks!" and being his humble self.

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We are heartbroken for you and your family, Flannery. He was truly one of the best human beings I knew. How fortunate to have him as a dad. When I talked to him last he spoke about how much he loved you and Phoebe. I know he will be deeply missed. Love to you all.
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What a beautiful tribute to your dad! He taught me at FSU between 1998-2002. He would always share little stories about you and your sister. I actually didn’t know who Flannery O’Connor was until I’d heard of you! I’m so sorry for your loss. He really was a wonderful person. ❤️

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Flannery, the drumbeats have been going out to all the old guard and we’re sharing stories and memories and tears and sending all our love and support to you, Phoebe and your mom. And you’re right, the stuff this enormous circle of friends is saying would embarrass the hell out of him. But we’re going to say it anyway.


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Ned Stuckey-French, Associate Professor and Director of the FSU Certificate Program in Publishing and Editing, B.A., Magna cum lade, Harvard College (1972), M.A., Brown University (1992), Ph.D., Universit of Iowa (1997).
Dr. Stuckey-French specializes in the personal essay and modern American literature and culture, especially magazine culture. His study of the personal essay, magazine culture and class construction, The American Essay in the American Century, was published in 2011. With Carl Klaus, he edited the collection Essayists on the Essay: Montaigne to Our Time. He is the co-author, with Janet Burroway and his wife Elizabeth, of Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, the nation’s most widely adopted creative writing textbook, which is now in its ninth edition.
His reviews and critical work have appeared in journals such as American Literature, Modern Fiction Studies, Fourth Genre, culturefront, Tri-quarterly, Assay, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Iowa Review, and in The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, The Walt Whitman Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of the Essay.
He also writes creative nonfiction and is the book review editor for the journal Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction. His personal essays, which have appeared in magazines such as In These Times, The Missouri Review, The Pinch, Guernica, and Walking Magazine, have been listed six times among the notable essays in the Best American Essays series.
He is working on a collection of personal essays and a study of the progressive tradition in 20th century American middle-class culture. He has taught in the Nonfiction Program of the Columbia University School of the Arts and in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival.

NED STUCKEY-FRENCH, Associate Professor and Director of the FSU Certificate Program in Publishing and Editing, B. A., magna cum laude, Harvard College (1972), M.A., Brown University (1992), Ph. D., University of Iowa (1997). Dr. Stuckey-French specializes in the personal essay and modern American literature and culture, especially magazine culture. His study of the personal essay, magazine culture and class construction, The American Essay in the American Century, was published in 2011. With Carl Klaus, he edited the collection Essayists on the Essay: Montaigne to Our Time. He is the co-author, with Janet Burroway and his wife Elizabeth, of Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, the nation's most widely adopted creative writing textbook, which is now in its ninth edition.
His reviews and critical work have appeared in journals such as American Literature, Modern Fiction Studies, Fourth Genre, culturefront, Tri-quarterly, Assay, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Iowa Review, and in The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, The Walt Whitman Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of the Essay.
He also writes creative nonfiction and is the book review editor for the journal Fourth Genre. His personal essays, which have appeared in magazines such as In These Times, The Missouri Review, The Pinch, Guernica, and Walking Magazine, have been listed six times among the notable essays in the Best American Essays series.
He is working on a collection of personal essays and a study of the progressive tradition in 20th century American middle-class culture. He has taught in the Nonfiction Program of the Columbia University School of the Arts and in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival.

BOOKS

  • The American Essay in the American Century (University of Missouri Press, 2011). Choice Outstanding Academic Book for 2012.
  • Essayists on the Essay: Montaigne to Our Time (forthcoming, University of Iowa Press, March, 2012).
  • Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, 8th Ed. (New York: Longman, 2010). Co-Author.

ARTICLES AND BOOK CHAPTERS:

ESSAYS

  • “Best American Essays 1987.” Essay Daily (December 11, 2015).
  • "A Real World Education: Revisiting Studs Terkel's Working." Creative Nonfiction. 57 (Fall 2015).
  • "In the Saddle." Iron Horse Review. 16.1 The Duet Issue. (2014). 36-37.
  • "Essays and Encyclopedias." Bending Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction website (Fall, 2013).
  • "Don't Be Cruel': An Argument for Elvis." The Normal School (Fall, 2012): 7 – 11. Listed among the Notable Essays of the Year in Best American Essays, 2013. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2013. Reprinted in Longreads(December 5, 2013).
  • "Dear John, I'm Afraid It's Over…" Brevity Blog (March 8, 2012).
  • "Meeting Bobby Kennedy." Cedars (Fall 2011).
  • "Nightmares." New South (Summer 2011) 60 - 62. Listed among the Notable Essays of the Year in Best American Essays, 2012. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2012.
  • "The Edsel Farm" (personal essay), Why We're Here: New York Essayists on Living Upstate (Colgate U P, 2010).
  • "Good Fences." (personal essay), Guernica (July 2009). Listed among the Notable Essays of the Year in Best American Essays, 2009. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2009.
  • "South Side" (personal essay), The Pinch (2006). Listed among the Notable Essays of the Year in Best American Essays, 2007. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.

AWARDS

  • Robert Irwin Award for Excellence in Teaching. 1994.

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“A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation.”
Oh, what a tough end to an already tough week. I’ll miss my friend Ned Stuckey-French, whose Facebook wall was a digital salon where literature and sports and politics were openly and freely discussed, sometimes cordially and sometimes not. Ned never blocked anyone or tried to stop them from speaking, but, ever the teacher, chose instead to engage (usually cordially, but occasionally not!), in the hope that discussion might move us closer to consensus—or, at the very least, respect for one another. He was truly an inspiring host, and I am honored to have known him.

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I came to know Ned Stuckey-French after I wrote Divided Paths, Common Ground, a biography about Purdue University’s Lella Gaddis who was part of the beginnings of cooperative extension in the early 1900s. Ned wrote to me to tell me that as a teen he mowed Lella’s grass at her home across from West Lafayette High School. We became FB friends. He saved the University of Missouri Press from shutdown. I signed his petition. We only knew one another through Facebook, but I feel I understood his stellar character well. He knew many Purdue-connected people through his West Lafayette upbringing and our mutual knowledge of those people would make for interesting conversations. My heart is with Elizabeth Stuckey-French and daughters.


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I've just learned that Ned Stuckey-French passed away today. Like so many people, I feel myself tremendously blessed to have known and spent time with Ned, conversing, joking, considering the world in all its many facets. I got to know him well only lately, but he was such a generous, humorous, welcoming soul that he treated me as if we'd been friends forever. We were roommates for a weekend in Boston for the ACLA conference, and I felt like I was afforded a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sit at the feet of a sage and ask all the questions I wanted. Turns out it was a twice-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as last year Ned graciously picked me up and drove me from Tallahassee to Tampa for the AWP conference. I will forever treasure that mind-expanding drive and my many soul-deepening experiences with Ned, a truly great man. Man, I'm so sad. I miss him terribly already.

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It is with sorrow that I share that my step-brother, Ned, passed away today. Ned was intelligent, true to his beliefs, and a loyal man whom it was a pleasure to know. I will never forget how much it meant to me when he made the long trip to help me move Dad into his second nursing home. I just couldn’t do it again myself. And Ned was there. I will never forget that. Thank you, Ned, for always being kind to me and welcoming me and my mother into your family. Peace and Grace to all who mourn your loss.
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Such sad news! Hard to believe, hard to bear. In college, Ned helped me learn about politics and the world, & decades later, he was still at it. He had a gentle humor, a combination of tenacity and kindness that made him a pleasure to be around, and a source of strength for friends and comrades. Taking the right things seriously, never over-serious about himself. Hard to believe that he’s gone. Love and strength to you and all his family, in whom Ned is reflected.


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I am stunned and deeply sorrowful. I had just started to get to know Ned via facebook, and I enjoyed every exchange. He is one FB friend I would dearly love to have known in person, to have met and shared some time with. Deep, deep condolences to Elizabeth and to everyone close to him.

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I am so sorry. I worked with him and with Bruce Joshua Miller on saving the U of Missouri Press and loved and respected him so much. He was a hero, and so many in the academic publishing world have no idea of what he was doing for them. He will be missed.


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Ned was one of those men who showed us what it really means to be a man in this world—work hard, love deeply, speak your feelings. Stand up when it’s time to stand up. He made the world a little bit better for his being. Thanks, Ned.


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Ned French was an incredible, wonderful man who I had the pleasure of knowing (off and on) for over 50 years.  He cared for a lot of things and was also a most loving, caring man!   He wrote passionately about literature and strongly supported his wife's work.   He spoke out on political issues - spreading the "liberal radical gospel"  - in ways that I respected greatly.   I learned a lot from things he posted links to.    He cared about track meets and West Lafayette's successes.

He was much, much more!


This is a huge loss!

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I've been spending a lot of time in the last 16 hours walking down Memory Lane and thinking about Ned Stuckey-French memories... I have quite a few...one of my favorites was during the months right after I had flunked out of college due to chronic non-attendance...so stupid. I was living at my parent's house in Lafayette and working to save up enough money to leave the Midwest behind. Ned used to send me Che Guevara post cards peppered with all kinds of inflammatory and radical comments, knowing of course, that Howard and Betty would read them!! Ahhhhh, the 60's....good times....🤣😂😀

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With Jim TatlockDavid PutnamGreg FosterDavid JohnstonGordon GreenmanNed Stuckey-French,Michael Ronald ShayDan ShawStephen Russell,Van AndersonD Bell and Tim Jones.- back row, with glasses fourth from right with hands folded

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 I like the clothespin story. Eddie Ragsdale and Julie Oesterle were inside Julie’s house for a long time. Ned was waiting for him outside. He got bored and rearranged all the clothespins in some funky way. Julie’s mother never could figure out who did that :)))


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Our community and Florida State University lost one of its best last night with the passing of Ned Stuckey-French. When I was fairly new to FSU Ned reached out and began a conversation about something I'd written. I was flattered he'd taken the time. Over many years of being on committees together, and always Facebook conversations, Ned showed what a special guy he was: generous, patient, engaging, smart, and he had some amazing stories from a life well lived.

At a meeting in April Ned revealed that his cancer had returned. He laid out the details unflinchingly. That it took this talented son of the midwest so soon is just hard to awaken to today.

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Our paths were similar though several years apart...West Lafayette High School, track and field enthusiasts, Harvard College English majors...and now Ned has sprinted past us all to whatever comes next. At moments like this, I take comfort in a wise reflection: "From Love springs all creation. By Love it is maintained. Toward Love it progresses, and into Love it enters."

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I am so sorry for your loss. Ned was such a kind, thoughtful, intelligent and passionate man. He was a wonderful writer and teacher. We met while at Purdue b/w 1985-87, engaged in anti-apartheid activism. It was so, so nice to reconnect with him through FB several years back, where those same gifts (and his fantastic sense of humor) came through. May you, Elizabeth, Ned's daughters find strength and support through family and friends, and with the wonderful memories he's left. He will be sorely missed.

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Not 15 minutes after I pulled out of my parents’ driveway yesterday, my old friend John McNally wrote to tell me of Ned Stuckey-French’s death. That’s a lot of sad for one afternoon, and I have had 1000 miles alone in my car the last 24 hours to ponder departures.
Ned and I were the two finalists for a nonfiction job at a Jesuit school on the Eastern seaboard way back in 1997. I was 27 and he was 47, fresh out of Iowa I think. The school was deadlocked: the administration preferred me because I was Jesuit-educated but the department preferred Ned because he was, well, much preferable. Neither of us got the gig.
I found all this out the following year when Ned and I were hired at St. Lawrence University, Ned and his wife Elizabeth to one-year jobs and me on the tenure-track. The late William Bradley was a senior in our department that year. I see in retrospect it was quite a confluence of essay power— Natalia Singer brought us all together— and I like to think we made the most of it.
I remember I drove Ned to the Ottawa airport in a driving snowstorm for one of his interviews that spring, and babysat their daughter Flannery while they both flew to Tallahassee to interview for the Florida State jobs that took them away from us. Before they left, Elizabeth played matchmaker between me and her hairstylist, who became my wife and the mother of my two sons.
Ned and I remained comrades despite their leaving. He added me to every AWP panel he proposed, it seemed. When he organized a very small conference on the essay-film, he made me a respondent just because I thought it was so cool. I put together an anthology of upstate NY writers and Ned contributed an essay and connected me to several other eventual contributors.
When my book GREEN FIELDS came out, he walked up to me at the NonfictionNow conference in Iowa City and quoted the book’s last line “What are you doing here, Bobby Cowser?” He had read it, he was saying, and carefully. But he was also saying he was going to hold me to account the way my childhood friend had. And he sure did that.
I have regrets about the way my marriage ended. I was brash and selfish, lost many friendships and strained others, (including mine with William Bradley, which I never had the chance to mend before he died). But Ned said only, “I hope you can both put this behind you and find happiness again."
Pretty soon, though I was in a major writing sulk, he was asking for a review of Richard Ford’s memoir about his parents for FOURTH GENRE. I was finding writing difficult, but Ned insisted. When I finally sent him something, he wrote that it was “absolutely wonderful.” Now it was only a book review, but I learned a couple of things from the experience. The first was that sometimes it wasn’t about you but about the work, serving the tradition. And I also learned why integrity is so valuable: in a world where we toss around compliments so carelessly, it’s hard to find one you can trust. Ned was a man of unimpeachable integrity, and him you could believe.
Just last week I assured my co-editors that we could ask Ned to write us an essay about EB White for our forthcoming companion. He would be fine. I genuinely believed that. The alternative was so profoundly sad, so unfair, that I could not accept it. Yet here we are.
The last comment Ned made to one of my (innumerable, I know) FB posts was to a photo I’d posted about my younger son winning the Literature Appreciation Award for his 8th Grade class last week. How sick must Ned have been? “Congratulations, Mason,” Ned wrote, “A love of literature can take you everywhere! You’re a rockstar.” Ned is right, and if you’re very lucky, as I was, you can walk a few miles of that journey with a man like Ned.

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Earlier tonight, I learned the terrible news about Ned Stuckey-French. He was, without question, my favorite professor. Even my parents learned his name because I spoke admiringly of him years after graduation.
Ned’s class introduced me to some of my favorite writings (including his own) and authors whom I still love to revisit today, but his impact went beyond the classroom. Ned’s outlook on life, his devotion to family, his compassion, social responsibility, conviction, and decency made a lasting impression. I will always remember a giant smile spreading across his face when he told us about meeting and falling in love with his wife Elizabeth. He loved her and their two daughters fiercely and let everybody know it.
8 years ago, a few weeks before my graduation, I visited his office hours and told him I felt unsure about my future. Most of my friends were moving on immediately to pursue their Master's and I felt behind. He assured me there was no greater gift than to experience life and let the world be my teacher. With that advice, I moved to New York City a few months later and began living outside my comfort zone, away from everything I'd ever known.
Ned also graciously allowed me to profile him for a senior project. During our chat, he told me: "I think most everybody, if they're really honest, will be able to tell you a story about how the reason they came to do what they have done with their life, whatever it might be, that somebody mentored them."
I remember being frustrated with my word limit for this assignment. His life was so much more complex than this dated piece that only captures a tiny fraction of the light he gave to the world, but I'm sharing for those curious about the wonders of Ned Stuckey-French: http://pub.lucidpress.com/nedstuckeyfrench/
I feel blessed to have known Ned and will carry his lessons with me forever. I'm certain everyone he crossed paths with will agree.
Thank you for the gift of endless inspiration, Professor 

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 I’m so sorry for your family’s loss, Sarasue. Ned always spoke so highly of your parents and of his childhood in Indiana. I hope you find comfort in knowing he was loved by so many. His legacy will live on in everyone whose life he affected.


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Just devastated to hear of the passing of Ned Stuckey-French, FSU professor of nonfiction and one of my favorite teachers and human beings. Unremittingly sweet, good-humored, generous, and upright. He could tell you anything you needed to know about the history of the essay (and where your own essay might fit), as well as nearest rally or protest. Always political and never hopeless. I cannot picture him not laughing. My heart goes out to Elizabeth, Phoebe, and Flannery. This is the worst.

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I lost my mentor last night. Ned Stuckey-French and I spoke just a month ago about creative non-fiction, essays I’ve been working on, a genre I didn’t know existed before he taught me. He was quite simply the best teacher and mentor I’ve ever had. I don’t have the words to express the unfairness and sadness this brings me; they fall short. Especially for you Ned, a word magician. I want to sit and cry, but you wouldn’t want me to do that. I think you’d want me to go outside, observe, and write. Below quote is from his essay, “A Real-World Education.”https://www.creativenonfiction.org/onl…/real-world-education

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The essay is a "slippery business. Our selves are and are not. They once were lost but now are found. But isn’t this the way life is? You grow up and move on. You become someone else and yet are always yourself .." ~ Ned Stuckey-French, RIP

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Here's one little glimpse of Ned's spirit and sense of fun, from a few years back at our daughter's bat mitzvah celebration.

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Devastated to learn that my dear friend and colleague Ned Stuckey-French passed away last night after a battle with cancer. It's impossible to find the words in a Facebook post to capture all Ned has meant to me and to so many others here at FSU, where he and his wife Elizabeth have been my colleagues, friends, and neighbors for almost 20 years. But suffice it to say that Ned was a powerful and vital force for good in our department and our community for two decades, beloved by everyone, and a tireless cheerleader for all. A deeply generous, kindhearted, and funny person, Ned was passionate about his convictions and ethical and political beliefs but always remarkably open to lively dialogue, which seemed to fuel him. Although he was modest and self-deprecating, Ned was a wonderful essay-writer and a groundbreaking figure in the world of creative nonfiction as a scholar of the essay as a form, as well as a lifelong activist and community organizer (as can be seen in his recent heroic efforts to save the University of Missouri Press).
Ned was also an all-around enthusiast, whose life-affirming excitement about, well, just about everything could be contagious -- whether it was Montaigne or Whitman, Joan Didion or William Gass, or the latest feats in the world of track and field. A voracious reader, he was endlessly curious about literature, music, art, culture, sports, and politics -- as anyone who has benefited over the past decade from his Facebook presence alone would know.
Ned was also so supportive of me personally, as he was with countless other friends, colleagues, fellow writers, and, especially, his students, to whom he was extremely devoted. He took a genuine interest in my work and was always such a generous champion of my writing. Over the past two decades, we watched each other's kids grow up and he was always so kind and concerned about our children from the time they were born to the last time we spoke. Above all else, Ned was an utterly devoted, loving husband to Elizabeth and father to his wonderful daughters. I just can't believe he's gone. Our hearts are with Elizabeth and Flannery and Phoebe and their whole family in this very difficult time.

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Feeling shocked and saddened by news that Ned Stuckey-French passed away last night. Ned was a sunbeam and a creative force in countless people's lives. For me, he was a mentor and an advocate, and I always felt surprised by and unworthy of his support. He was a great professor at Florida State University and empowered me to share my papermaking experiences through the beautiful form of the essay. Today, I am studying at the University of Iowa because of him, and he is always on my mind when I roam the halls of EPB and see distinct traces of his influence among my creative non-fiction colleagues. I have felt closer to him, being in Iowa City for the past two years, but I realize this morning that we were actually quite far apart. I wasn't aware that his cancer had returned until yesterday, and I'm afraid that my prayers came too late. I didn't know Ned for very long, yet his impact on my life has been profound. I'm sending my love and deepest sympathies to his family and those who knew him well. I cannot imagine how intense your loss must be. 



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