Staughton Lynd Died. Staughton Lynd Lives On.
The First Gulf War (1990–1991) had started and death and destruction were raining down on Iraq. I was giving an anti-war talk at a church on the campus of Youngstown State University. As I spoke, I noticed an older couple enter and sit in the audience. When I finished, this couple approached me and introduced themselves as Staughton and Alice Lynd and expressed interest in my connecting the war to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. Staughton asked if they could visit me at my home to discuss more. I would usually hesitate to accept such a request from total strangers, but there was something different in the way he asked, soft-spoken, and every word was spoken with purpose. I said yes. It was the best yes that I have ever spoken.
The rest is history. Three decades of friendship, comradery, and solidarity that I will cherish forever.
Last April, I did what I always do when I visit Youngstown: I visited Staughton and Alice at their Niles home, the only home they have ever owned and where they have lived for over 40 years. Also, as always, I stopped to take with me vanilla ice cream for Staughton, a favorite of his, and grapes for Alice, who can’t eat ice cream. Alice met me at the door, and we took up our seats as usual, in the corner adjacent to the kitchen where a few chairs and a reading couch are cozily facing each other. Staughton, who would ordinarily have been at the front door with Alice to greet me, was not there. Alice said he would join us in a moment.
When Staughton joined us, my heart dropped. He was visibly hurting, with various patches covering up sore spots across his face and body. I wanted to cry, but in Staughton’s presence you don’t pity a broken body, you intellectually engage, which we proceeded to do. Staughton first asked about my wife and Youngstown-based family members, and then about the situation in Palestine. He inquired about specific people in my family by name: The Loon (which was his nickname for my brother-in-law Abu Yacoub), and Nimeh, Jawad, their kids, and so forth. He consoled me for the loss of my two aunts, Lekka and Naameh, who had passed away since my last visit. His memory was intact.