How does one eulogize their hero? Words seem to fail all of us when someone dies that we care about. When I have filled the role as minister at funerals, my bible college pastoral training does little to help. Death is a mysterious unknown that none of us will fully comprehend until we experience it firsthand. When someone dies we are left to scramble around, thinking not only about the personal loss of their presence, but also the sting of our own mortality. The person, the hero, we mourn today is distinguished author Doctor Hunter S Thompson.

When I first heard about Dr. Hunter S Thompson it was by watching “Where the Buffalo Roam”. It was an average film but it was not something that would convert anyone into a Thompson fan. It certainly didn’t make me one. A few years later, I was told by some friends that I should check out his book “Hells Angels”. I did. Boy, am I glad I did. Within a couple of years I had read almost everything he had ever published. The way Thompson wrapped a vivid depiction around often violent or exaggerated experiences was what immediately drew me to him. The fact that he thumbed his nose at the establishment and did want he wanted, made me swoon like a 14 year old boy-crazy girl. When he openly wrote of drugs and other topics not often spoke of by the literary world, I fell in love.

Dr. Thompson was the guy wearing black that even the guys wearing white hoped would win. Somehow he was able to cast his spell on all walks of life, he even counted neo-cons as rabid fans. He was impossible to not love, unless you were an evil, law-breaking, terminally unhip President, such as Dick Nixon. Nixon famously said Thompson represented, “that dark, venal, and incurably violent side of the American character.”

Come now Dick, writing about and doing a vast amount of drugs is a far cry from some of the crimes that you and your thugs committed. Those harsh words by the President couldn’t hold Hunter back. He simply kept building his career while widening the trail once graced by such authors as Jack Kerouac and Marquis de Sade. Inspired by Thompson, a number of writers have felt the freedom to throw off the yolk of what convention tells them it means to be a writer. His influence on whole generations of authors from the hippies to the kids of the new millennium, who will be reading his work in college in a few years, is assured and undeniable.

Now he’s gone, taken not by man, beast nor disease but by his own hand. Suicide is an occupational hazard for writers. Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Lucan, the list of writers who have punched their own ticket to the next life is long. So in the grand tradition of his craft, after a sixty-seven year odyssey, Hunter saw fit to end things this way; his way. While I do not want to condone suicide, neither will I question it.

What we have left is his brilliant writing. No review I could give on his catalogue is adequate. If you are reading this and don’t understand what the big deal is, then I suggest you pick up one of his novels and find out firsthand. Hunter, like death, must be experienced that way. We’ll miss you big guy.