Thursday, May 16, 2013

Louis Strick, RIP

We were saddened to learn today of the passing of Louis Strick, a really wonderful multi-talented and generous man who gave us our start as an author by publishing our first collection of short stories in hardcover back in 1979.  He was an intelligent, warm, funny, astute person whose wide-ranging interests and gift for friendship made him someone we will always admire greatly.  (Our book Autumn in Brooklyn is dedicated to him.)  We used to talk fondly about Midwood High School, which he graduated from exactly twenty-five years before us, in the first graduating class. 

We loved hearing his stories about Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, John Ashbery, and other writers he knew.  As his colleague from Meridian Books, the legendary editor Aaron Asher, once said, "Louis Strick was a guy who loved books and publishing and fiction" (Kenneth C. Davis, Two-Bit Culture: The Paperbacking of America 296).

Our mom was a calligrapher, as were some of our friends, and Louis Strick more than almost anyone was responsible for the flowering of calligraphy in mid-century America. (See this 1974 New Yorker "Talk of the Town" piece called "Everyman's Art.")  He had an incredible career and a rich life.

Here is the obituary from Westport Now:

Louis Strick, a 32-year Westport resident, died May 12 at the Jewish Home for the Elderly in Fairfield following a brief illness. He was 87.

Strick was raised in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, N.Y., the son of Rosalind and Charles Strick. Growing up near Ebbets Field, he was an ardent fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  In 1940, he became a member of the first class of Midwood High School.

Strick went on to attend Cornell University. His college education was interrupted by World War II, and at age 19 he served as a staff sergeant in occupied Italy.  After the war, Strick completed his undergraduate studies and went on to Columbia Universirty to pursue a Master’s in economics. 

He then wrote a weekly column on the stock market for the Journal of Commerce.  Next he worked as a financial analyst for the investor Fred Stafford.  In the late 1950s, he purchased H.M. Storms, a manufacturer of ink ribbons; their primary customer would become the National Cash Register Co.

During this period, Strick bought a radio station in St. Louis.  WAMV was the first American station to play the hit song “Volare.” In the early 1960s, Strick co-founded a pioneering quality paperback line, Meridian, publishing Philip Roth among others. After selling H.M. Storms, he acquired Artone Ink, whose distinctive bottle featured the letter “a” in the form of an ink drip, an idea of Strick’s that was designed by Push Pin Studios and gave rise to a popular typeface.

In the late 1960’s Strick began importing calligraphic art supplies, distributed through his Pentalic Company.  By making special nibs, pens and instruction books widely available, Strick spearheaded a revival of the calligraphic movement in America;. He also established the Calligraphy Workshop, a school on lower Fifth Avenue.

In the late 1970’s, Strick purchased the Taplinger Publishing Company, bringing out works of literary fiction as well as volumes on modern art, reflecting two of his passions. 

Strick himself was an artist who focused on collage; several of his pieces were exhibited in juried shows in Westport where he lived with Elizabeth for 32 years.

He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Elizabeth, his three children, Ivy, Wesley and Charlotte, a stepson, Simon, seven grandchildren, and two younger brothers, Walter and Stanley. 
We will miss him a great deal and offer our deep sympathies to his family, especially to our friends Wesley, who was the editor of our first book, and to Ivy, who designed the book's beautiful cover.

1 comment:

Pete said...

Very sorry to hear of his passing, but it looks like he lived a very full and vibrant life.