Author,  Award-Winning Journalist and Proud Oklahoman

Charlene Nevada Krummel and Arthur Krummel


NOTE: I delivered, on June 8, 2024, this hybrid eulogy/commentary, more fit for roast than Arthur Krummel’s  memorial service.  Arthur would have wanted to hear the sound of laughter as he was remembered.


Twenty-five years ago, when Arthur Krummel and I were underage, we could only imagine the terrors of growing old. Kind, generous, and wise Art provided a preview of coming attractions. He turned the serious funny and made it OK to laugh about old age and what inevitably follows. He was like that. He made life better for others—especially for Charlene, Little One of Little and Biggie Productions.

They were a team, co-stars for more than 53 years in a long-running comedy of life. The absurd happened to and for them. It became the stuff of story and illustration. So they stayed alert for the funny, ridiculous, and sublime. Each Christmas, in an old-fashioned mailed letter—no smart-phoned text or emailed files—they shared the Best and Worst of the Year in the most highly anticipated Little and Biggie Production. It went out to those who lapped up the wackiness that found the Krummels like a heat-seeking missile. Readers nearly died laughing.

As we remember and celebrate Arthur today, the sound he would want hear is that of laughter. Wherever Art is, he needs that—and new material. He cannot rely on the Browns for laughs for all eternity. So let’s begin with his lung rocks . . .

I once backed into an editorial page column that examined  obituaries and eulogies using rockin’ Art. To quote the late Red Smith, who, dead or alive, didn’t waste words: “Dying is no big deal. The least of us will manage that. Living is the trick.” It’s not letting lung rocks spoil a good-looking corpse.

Art probably didn’t buy this after surgery had removed the lung responsible for his gravel pit. He had enough rocks to go into the driveway business. [I exaggerate; actually he kept them in a match box.] Technically, they were calcified lymph nodes. But they could be a part of what brings us here today. I’m no doctor—hell, I can barely write anymore—but it was funny so Art rolled with his rocks, getting a nice  head start on cremation.

He did something men find difficult. He admitted his vulnerability. Mine gobsmacked me. From 1968 to 1983, four of my dearest friends died . . . as a result of the Vietnam War, a drunken driver, throat cancer, and a murderer. Being my friend was dangerous, but Arthur risked it. He plunged into the deep end with me when I joined the Beacon Journal in 1981 as local columnist and was assigned a desk on the cusp of an art department filled with warm characters in coldhearted newsroom. Now, I’m all alone.

Before he became boss, Art had been one of the boys, an eraser-throwing cutup who, at Christmas, played continuously, I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas. Truthfully, the artists went nuts year-round and drove others headlong over that cliff. Since I was underemployed, writing a mandated “notes” column, Art assigned me to fill the art department waxer. I did such a dandy job that years later, after he had begun spewing lung rocks, he began to admit he loved me. I thought we should get a room.

Discreet, we became closer when the Krummels and Loves set out to sea on a weeklong cruise. Even there, strange things happened to the Krummels. We all opted for a spa treatment. It involved getting naked-nude, rubbing green or brown gunk on your partner, and then having it water-blasted off until you hurt. What hurt most is not being allowed to do this as a foursome. Cruising promised the ultimate togetherness. As in Las Vegas, what happens aboard ship stays aboard ship. But no! Too naughty.

Even naked-nude wasn’t as close as what I experienced during Art’s last days. After their annual winter weeks in Florida, during which Char apprised us of Art’s newest medical emergency, I called him. They had come home early but not before a road trip to a Cleveland Clinic facility in Florida and an extended stay at the Clinic in Cleveland. A mass had been found in Art’s chest. He rejected more probing, because he had had of enough Unidentified Foreign Objects and treatments that didn’t rock.

Because I hate telephone calls, I dreaded this one. I feared what Art might say. I had had a similar call from a hometown buddy, Bucky Buck. We had been high school teammates, even played the same position in football and remained friends. Bucky told me that he had entered hospice. That couldn’t be. Bucky couldn’t die. He was as tough as an old boot. But even old boots wear out. So I had no words. I borrowed Art’s.

I repeated them, not because they would make him feel better but because they were important to say and for him to hear. The words? Simple: I love you, Arthur.

Before he died in his sleep in a chair downstairs in his house, Arthur had gotten up, raided the fridge, and grabbed a beer. Of course, he had: In his order of import, hearing that I loved him might have been nice but one last beer was nicer.

It is ironic that we celebrate Arthur on the very weekend that Friends of Bill W. have gathered in Akron for Founders Day of Alcoholics Anonymous. Henrietta Seiberling brought together Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith at Stan Hywet’s Gate House, where they co-founded AA. No disrespect to Bill W.—and other sobriety-seekers—but Arthur was no “friend.” He liked a drink as much as the next journalist. I fear for Art’s Happy Hours if Friends of Bill W. have added No Drinking While Dead to their Twelve Step Program. Perhaps Arthur left behind half of his last beer as a protest.

He did not leave us—or his beer—cold turkey. He slipped away in his sleep, dropping the mic and sticking his dismount from a well-lived, much-admired life. So Arthur, love and cheers to you. You still rock our hearts. If you have yet to receive your final reward, know that I’m searching for it, your fav beer—vintage 1980s Genny Cream Ale.

If I find it before my expiration date, it’ll be chillin’ in the Love fridge for all eternity. Just help yourself . . . because I know you will.