Tribute to William Kunze

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, 
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won, 
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, 
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; 
                         But O heart! heart! heart! 
                            O the bleeding drops of red, 
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies, 
                                  Fallen cold and dead. 
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; 
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills, 
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding, 
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; 
                         Here Captain! dear father! 
                            This arm beneath your head! 
                               It is some dream that on the deck, 
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead. 
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still, 
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will, 
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done, 
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won; 
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells! 
                            But I with mournful tread, 
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies, 
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

William Kunze:  The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Sadly the founder of Searle’s Raid and consummate living historian, William Kunze, was taken from us around Friday May 26, 2017 or thereabouts, having suffered a heart attack while in the shower.  He was 49.

William undoubtedly meant many things to many people.  Above all he had a penchant for history, such that his mind functioned like an encyclopedia and he was able to converse on many aspects of history in such detail so as to drive the listener to tears (sometimes of boredom but …).  If the listener was a fan of history too, William would delight in this and discuss clothing, weapons, customs, down to the nitty gritty minutiae of the period.  His passion for history was matched only by his passion in passing on history to the next generation to get them enthused enough that they would be his next recruit into portraying living history.   His interpretation of history was unyieldingly the ‘correct’ one, so that if you had another viewpoint, he would delight in arguing until he won you over.  If he couldn’t win you over, then you were pronounced ‘wrong’, not only to him, but to everyone who would listen, so, like the rest of us, he had his warts too.

At a reenactment, he would be the first to greet the newbie and the returning veteran alike with ” So (Insert your name here), how have you been?  It’s great to see you!  I just need to run over here to help set up a tent (more like drink a beer), we’ll talk later.”  At the end of a reenactment, he was often AWOL catching surfing some waves, explaining that his role was that of a recruiter, not one of a setup/tear down person  (yeah, right…)

As a friend he would give you the shirt off his back, or the chain mail if that’s what you needed.  He was forever broke, from buying new equipment or tasty brews which he was happy to share.  If you were on his call list and you saw his name on the caller ID, you knew the mixed emotions you faced when answering, and having to  check your watch to see if you had the half hour to spare that answering his call would take! 

There are many, many William stories, most of which are best not relayed in public, but will be the talk ’round campfires for years to come.  

Here are some of our pictures related to our departed Captain Kunze.  If you have a favorite picture(s) of William that you’d like us to add to this page, please send it to

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