O Captain! My Captain!
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 Ria@dev.hfm.club.