Peter Palmquist, Goodbye

Amy received some sad news today – photographic historian and friend Peter Palmquist was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Emeryville today. Probably never knew what hit him.

Palmquist had created the world’s largest collection of photographs of early California, and had catalogued and described them meticulously. He was in the process of turning his immense collection over to Yale University. We visited Palmquist in his home in Arcata last July, and spent days going through his amazing archives – he had built six libraries on his property just to house the collection.

He also sponsored Amy’s book of photographs, Surrogate, simply because he believed in her and her work. He chose one unknown artist per year to sponsor, and asked nothing in return.

Amy has had a difficult evening. So many true and poignant cliche’s here, about the way the people who contribute the most to the world are taken from us before their time, about the need to carpe diem because tomorrow you may be hit by a bus, about the tenuousness of life, about the need to tell people whom you appreciate how much you appreciate them…

Palmquist is one of those people most will never hear of but who made their lives count, and who enriches the lives of generations to come by his contributions.

Music: The Last Poets :: True Blues

5 Replies to “Peter Palmquist, Goodbye”

  1. that’s horrible. i’m sorry to hear it, especially that it was a hit and run. i hope they fry the fucker who did it (figuratively anyway…). have been doing my own share of mortality contemplation as well.

    my yesterday:

    1. found out that an ex-employee of my dad’s, who at one point was his best employee, managed his shop, and was my earliest lifestyle influence, bled from his esophegous to death in the hospital the other day.

    i idolized this guy when i was 10-13. he made mix tapes w/ aerosmith, the nuge, tubes, montrose, ac/dc, pat travers, etc. he got me stoned for the first time (heh. when i was about 10….). also was always in a character and could recite cheech and chong or george carlin routines including impersonations, sound effects and timing. he turned me on to firesign theater “hi friends, ralph spoilsport here of ralph spoilsport motors , here in the beautiful city of EM-physema….” . needless to say, he coulld recite the entire side of that album verbatim.

    he drove an immaculate metallic brown 70 skylark with cream interior — he kept the center armlift up and in front of it a towel covered bong. always an open tray of bud under his seat. ended up embezzling from my dad (it all went up his nose) but still – he had at one time been an incredbly charismatic guy and model employee. even when he was embezzling, he was the ki9nd of guy who wouldn’t stand to watch someone waddle through a task when he could do his work and theirs simultaneously and better…

    but his parents were friends of my parents too (his dad is my dad’s accountant) and like a son, i think my dad forgave him and at one point hired him back (no register keys tho, i’m sure). at that point, rick was also a lush tho…

    he was about 40 when he died.

    2. when i used to work at booboos, i worked with this wonderfull kind smart girl named eileen, who eventually got married to a guy everyone loved named kurt. he was a REAL model son. star track athlete, executive at a graphic design firm, locally renowned musician. they had 3 kids, one a few months old. last time i saw them was at their wedding.

    found an online obituary of kurt’s and it said that he died in a car accident. my sister supplied the details: he parked his car on one of the bridges on san marcos pass. the highest one. he wrote a note. he called the CHP and told them where he was and that he was jumping off. i really wish i knew more deatils – i don’t know how a guy like this does something like this to his family. i wonder what could have been so painful htat he’s put his family thorugh this. sometimes, people off themselvs, and it makes sense. this not one of those times. he was 41. eileen a few years younger. two older kids right around kindergarten age, give or take a year.

    3. another guy who worked for my dad is a story in himself. ronny cromenes (rhymes with weenies). 5’3″ after hanging in weighted gravity inversion boots and with heels on, and about 98 pounds. never bathed. NEVER. you could see the grit in the part of his greasy towhead, and the blackheads encrusting his face were like craters. 3mm fingernail protruding, crammed with grease. teeth brown, green and orange. my dad would offer him raises to bathe. smoked tiparillos and you KNOW he inhailed these things as if they were carltons. he has a wife and kids — ick! now dying of terminal lung cancer. no great surprise.

    4. my uncle (mom’s half bro) mark – you know, the 40 y.o. one who lives with my gramma and raises chihuahuas and cockatoos – contracted valley fever. some kind of tumor started growing and ended up grapefruit sized. had to yank a rib when removing it. still sick. while in the hospital the humane society came and took the animals. left one per resident. thank god. it was elder abuse…

    5. other uncle just got a divorce (and get this – mark is going to stay with his ex-wife! did someone say white trash?) but has had a couple operations on his shoulders. i guess that’s why he now takes 7 vic’s at a pop, multiple times per day.

    ah, family….

  2. Received the terrible news via a phone call early this morning from Women in Photography’s president, Jean Ferro. Peter was a beloved friend and cohort for over twenty years and the loss is immeasurable. Prayers go out to his darling Pam, his daughters and all who loved him. A rare and charming man whose mark on the world of photography is greater than anyone (even Peter!) imagined!

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