Our old friend Karl Epperson quietly passed away last night, while my husband and I were on our way back from Kentucky. I didn’t get the word until this morning. I guess it was just as well.
I knew Karl for 20 years. Hell, everyone knew him within one or two degrees of separation – and I don’t know anyone, anywhere, who ever had a bad thing to say about him. He was a kind, funny, sociable man who loved coffee and animals. He was never mean; he had no tolerance for cruelty of any kind. He was a disabled veteran, and an advocate for disadvantaged people everywhere. (Run a google search for “Karl Epperson Chattanooga” and scan the headlines. You’ll see.)
He didn’t really have any blood-family, but he was rich in the found-and-accumulated variety of kin.
Every now and again, he ran for public office. It never panned out, but he never really expected it to. All the same, he leaves behind a political legacy in the Westside Community Association and the action it’s taken on behalf of poor and working-class families seeking affordable housing.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but he was pretty much the best.
(If you’ve ever read my early books – the little paranormal mysteries set here, in Chattanooga – then you may remember Karl. He and his service dogs [first Cowboy, then Rocky] have been fixtures downtown for the last 25 years … particularly around a couple of coffeehouses: Tazza, and then Greyfriar’s – after Tazza closed. It would’ve been silly to tell a story about this city and leave him out of it. With his permission [nay, by his direct and gleeful request] I didn’t even change his name.)
Here’s to Karl.
He loved to tell me stories. I loved to hear them.