Pennsic Passings Pt. 1

Ralph Oxhandler.jpg
Freda and Ralf
Photos by Master Phillip the Pilgrim

By: Magistra Nicolaa de Bracton, Features Reporter

As the SCA enters its fiftieth year, we take time at this Pennsic to remember a few who have passed on this year. To remember every single gentle we have lost would exceed the capacity of this publication. In honour of all those we have lost, we take time to remember three who were especially important to Pennsic over the years.

Mistress Siobhan O'Neill, OP, OL
Mistress Siobhan unexpectedly passed away in March of this year. She was the founder of the Pennsic Progress, the first regular newspaper published at Pennsic. A few years ago, while writing an article about the history of the Pennsic newspapers over the years, I remember her regaling us with tales of typewriters and mimeograph machines and the extraordinary efforts it took to put out a newspaper in the early days. In later days, Mistress Siobhan was a regular presence at Pennsic with her merchant business. She was fondly remembered as "Mistress Carrot" for her devotion to the idea that carrots, rather than sticks, were the best way to help others improve their skills and peer qualities. She was a Laurel for her gorgeous scribal work, particularly in the Irish/Insular style, and her Pelican reflected her many years of work in various capacities, including as Middle Kingdom Chronicler.
A lifetime resident of the Canton of Three Hills (Kalamazoo, MI) within the Barony of Andelcrag, Mistress Siobhan was also a brother of the Great Dark Horde. In her modern life, she was a librarian at Western Michigan University, where she made arrangements for the Great Boke of the Midrealm (an illuminated book of Middle Kingdom ceremonies) to be kept and preserved in the library. Her love of cats was also legendary--one of her last status updates was to talk about visiting the local SPCA for a fix of "little fuzzers with motorboat purrs." She is survived by her husband, Master Thaddeus the Brown, and leaves a legacy of artistry and service that will ensure she is remembered for many generations.

Ralf the Oxhandler of Oaklawn
Ralf the Oxhandler of Oaklawn, who welcomed Pennsic attendees for many years at Troll and Information Point, passed away at the age of 91 in January. He was the father of the late Countess Elaina of Oaklawn, who was also a familiar face at Information Point. Many Pennsic-goers may remember him as the older gentleman who greeted them as they arrived at War--even if you didn't know his name, you certainly knew his face. According to the notice posted by Pennsic staff upon his death, he served as a volunteer for over 25 years. His stool at Troll will be empty this year, but Pennsic-goers can sign a memory book at Information Point, or attend an Evening of Happy Memories on Tuesday, August 4 at 8 pm at Oaklawn camp (corner Dragontrace and Chandlers' Road).

Freda, Odyssey Coffee
From Dave at Odyssey Coffee. “Our dear friend and sister Freda passes away this past May. She was and is greatly loved and will be greatly missed. Please lift a glass in her honor and think of her while you are here. On Monday of War Week, please wear your brightest and most outrageous garb to help us remember her.”