Arnold Markley died on Friday at the age of 47. He was my friend.
I was one of thousands, it seems, whose life was enriched by knowing him in his too brief stay on this earth. Arnold was an English professor at Penn State Brandywine. His area of expertise was old English literature, and he brought it alive for his students. He was also their mentor, advocate, supporter, and they thought the world of him. It was no surprise that he was voted Distinguished Teacher of the Year in 2007.
Arnold was uniquely genuine, a southern gentleman whose kindness and generosity never faltered. No wonder his childhood nickname was “Beau.” I don’t think there was a person in the world who did not love Arnold. He and I shared a love of literature and a passion for language, and I sometimes called him with questions about grammar. He always seemed happy to be asked. But he often initiated a conversation by complimenting me on my work. In fact, his emails were so sweet, so kind, that I saved all of them in my personal folder on my laptop. If ever I needed a boost, I could reread those emails and feel better. That was what Arnold did. He made people feel better.
Arnold suffered with leukemia for three and a half years. He fought hard but the disease prevailed, despite a stem cell transplant and multiple rounds of chemo. Throughout it all, his courage and dignity were an inspiration. His devoted partner, Brian, showed all of us how you deal with something so unimaginably horrific and with bravery, strength and grace. It was due to Brian’s faithful postings online that Arnold’s wide circle of friends and family were able to follow his ups and downs over the course of this battle.
So many of us wanted to do anything we could to help. I volunteered as a dinner provider, and one day in January I delivered a moussaka to Arnold’s home. Not only did Arnold thank me profusely over and over, he told others about it as well. In the last weeks of his life I delivered another moussaka, and he emailed me the following: “It is still the BEST I’ve ever had — and I’ve been to Greece and have had it several times. Too good to be true!”
Arnold, you were too good to be true. I will never forget you. Rest in peace, my friend.