Wednesday, February 24, 2021

RIP, Roger Brunelle

Roger Brunelle

I learned last night that our friend, Roger Brunelle, died on February 10 at age 86. The last time I saw Roger was in October 2016 at the annual Lowell Celebrates Kerouac event in Lowell, MA.

Roger explicating about the Lonesome Traveler quote at the Kerouac Commemorative during
Lowell Celebrates Kerouac, October 2016

Roger was a longtime Lowellian and founding member of Lowell Celebrates Kerouac. He gave Kerouac tours of the city for 35 years. I often referred to him in blog posts as a Kerouac docent.

Roger loved Jack and he loved Lowell. He was of French-Canadian heritage and spoke and taught French, which connected him to Jack in an intimate way. A fond memory of Roger is from March 2016 during the annual celebration of Jack's birthday in Lowell. My great friend, Richard Marsh, and I had lunch at the Worthen and Roger had a beer while we ate. When Roger said he was going up to pay for his beer he surprised us and paid for our lunches, too.

Roger had a quick wit and I always got the impression that he did not suffer fools gladly. I used to love going on his Lowell tours -- he had deep Kerouac and Lowell knowledge -- and listening to him read sections from Jack's books that were relevant to where we were, using his 3x5 notecards that he lovingly prepared in advance.

I'm very sad to learn of Roger's death -- sad for myself and for his loved ones and friends, sad for Lowellians, and sad for future generations of Kerouac fans who will never benefit from Roger's  Lowell-Kerouac knowledge.

HERE is a link to Roger's obituary in the Lowell Sun.

Say hi to Jack for us, Roger, and rest in peace.

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