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A lover of words, and my good friend is gone

August 28, 2008 at 6:40 am

Hu Pryor - 1916-2008

Hu Pryor - 1916-2008

There was an adorably written, short manuscript  called “The Habitat Under My Hat” that I hand delivered to the editorial department and then my boss for a remote possibility of publication.   Although I knew there wasn’t really a place for it on the HCI list, I thought it was an enjoyable enough read to share.

And, the author was my friend.

You never know.

And then, The Habitat Under My Hat, went missing. The author asked for it to be returned several times and I awkwardly made excuses while prodding my co-workers to dig around for it.  This went on for months.

Then, one Friday, I got a call from upstairs telling me that the blessed manuscript was found and would be returned pronto. What a relief. It’s one thing to lose property of a stranger but when it belongs to your friend and it’s the only copy in the universe, you feel kind of bad.

But, not as bad as I would feel a few days later.

My dear author friend would never retrieve his lost book proposal.

Two weeks before, Hu Pryor passed away. He was 92.

I met Hu browsing in a church bookstore in Delray Beach, waiting for my  minister friend, Cathy, to finish her sermon and accompany me to lunch. He was tall, distinguished, and we hit it off immediately.  I was in publishing. He was a writer.  Even with a gap in age of 39 years, there was a lot to talk about.

He enjoyed my company, I think, because it kept him “plugged in” to the buzzing world of book publishing. I enjoyed his for many reasons but mostly because the stories of his life fascinated me. They took me around the world and into the offices of some legendary periodicals.

He was also the exact age of my late father, and was sharp as a tack until the end.

Hu was born in Argentina, educated in Buenos Aires and in England and began his career as a South American correspondent of the United Press. He worked in the U.S. for the NY Herald Tribune, was senior editor at Look magazine and also edited at Science Digest.

What impressed me even more was that he held the editor’s post at Modern Maturity magazine, a publication that has since been renamed AARP magazine. As a publicist, this is one of the brass rings we aim for because of its mega-circulation, the largest of any magazine. (No, my friendship with Hu never got me a book review or a story!)

Hu continued his journalism career (as a Florida retiree) contributing columns to the Palm Beach Daily News (affectionately know here as “The Shiney Sheet”) up until his death. His mind was not only sharp, it was still flexible like that of a much younger person.

We’d trade stories about books and current events and veered off into the mysterious terrain of metaphysics. He knew and read a lot on the subject and contributed his own philosophy in a book called Soul Talk: Positive Mind Treatments to Turn Your Life Around. He marveled more than once at how since going out of print, his book had been up for sale on an online book site for over $50.00. That tickled him.

He made an appearance on a great little tv show, The God Squad hosted by a priest and a rabbi (who walked into a bar… no, not really, sorry!) and his book was written about, more than once on a site called www.soulfulliving.com

On July 9, my birthday, I called Hu to see if he’d meet me for a birthday meal. That’s the last time I would talk to him.

Not knowing what had happened, I kept emailing and leaving telephone messages.  It wasn’t that unusual to hear nothing from Hu for a short while. Then, in early August, as I had done a few times before, I held my breath and googled the name “Hubert Pryor.”  My worst fear materialized because this time an obituary appeared on the screen.  A lovely tribute from AARP to this great man I called my friend.

On July 15, Hu passed away.

I often picture him arriving to meet me for lunch at one of the local bistros walking with a determined forward lean carrying a navy blue windbreaker and a briefcase filled with ideas. And, they were often very good.

Especially, when they rhymed. (Hu’s specialty)

I will miss you dear old friend. I only wish I got to say goodbye.

xox

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Comments (1)

1 Comment »

    Hi Kim,
    Although bittersweet, a reminder of two things:

    Speak your truth now to whom you love as the opportunity might not be there tomorrow.

    And even if you don’t have the chance – know there’s a good chance that they’ll hear you anyway.

    Love your blog! Judy

    Comment by Judy MartinAugust 30, 2008 @ 12:21 pm

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