An Open Letter to Robert Quackenbush
You will be missed
Dear Mr. Quackenbush,
First of all, I admit that I had never heard of you prior to reading of your death. This is why most of my information comes from The New York Times.
For obvious reasons, your obituary called out to me. But little did I know what a fascinating man hid behind that last name. You could have shrunk behind a name like that. You could have changed it. To what? Bush? Q? Qush?
Instead, you made the best of it.
You quit your corporate job in the early 60s to start a career as an illustrator for children’s books. Then, tired of illustrating other people’s books, you came out with your own. “Old Macdonald Had a Farm” was released on April Fool’s Day in 1972.
When your son was born, you wanted to protect him from the nonsense you had to endure because of your last name. You created the “Henry the Duck” series of books and no one dared mock your son. You went on to author and illustrate over two hundred books.
I admire you not only for overcoming life with a difficult last name. But for also overcoming a childhood trauma.
And, again. Making the best of it.
I read that you and your father had quarreled just before he died in a car accident. You were nine years old. Too young to know any better, you blamed yourself for his death. You turned this trauma into an interest in children’s mental health. At the age of seventy, you obtained a Ph.D. in Childhood Education.
After 9/11, you created the Liberty Avenue Program to help children affected by the terrorist attacks. The program continues to assist any child in emotional distress.
You are an inspiration to those who feel slighted, ridiculed, or misunderstood in this world. You made your way through life in a manner that was best for yourself but never failed to take others into consideration.
Your navigation of life is to be admired and imitated.
A New Fan