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Neither did nature or Rupert’s wife or his four children or his eleven grandchildren. Ralph Pease, a professor of English at Sam Houston when Rupert was there, said that Rupert’s work as a summer ranger at five national parks had given him the chance to live and hike in Yellowstone, Glacier, Mt. Rainier, and Rocky Mountain parks and on Mt. McKinley, and that ever after, what he loved doing best was fishing and hunting and climbing mountains. “He would take the children fishing and patiently hook up the wormsshow them how to cast and then untangle the reel for themhe always made them think that their catch was a huge fish and that they had landed it all by themselves,” Pease said. “He liked to take pictures of them holding their fish.” A man Pease tells about says that one weekend in early spring Rupert invited him to join the Koeninger family on a weekend excursion to see the dogwood and redbud in bloom. “I honestly don’t think I had ever noticed them before, and I had lived all my life in East Texas,” the fellow said. “But Dr. Koeninger wasn’t content just to see them. He wanted to identify them and explain them to his children. He wanted to walk around them, to touch the blooms, to sit under the branches. I saw then just how much he loved nature.” Once when Pease was camping with Rupert at State Lake, a heron sailed in gracefully and landed near them. “Thank you, Mr. Heron,” Rupert said gleefully. When Rupert was 71 years old he hiked for seven days through mountains along the Resurrection River in Alaska. “He loved flowers and birds and funny hats and pretty girls and hiker’s shoes and children and Indians and bear teeth and just about anything you could name,” Pease said. “He loved being a liberal. Some things he didn’t like and he wasn’t afraid to express his opinion about them capital punishment, racial prejudice. With lesser thingslike pretentious professors and tieshe showed a bemused acceptance.” Somewhat in the same way the University of Texas tried to make it up to J. Frank Dobie for having forced him off their faculty, UTAustin, as if apologizing for the wrong done Koeninger by its little-sister university, made Rupert a docent at the Harry Ransom Center in 1980. Having written up his firing in the Observer, I had come to know him and Ethel, but I did not see much of them, other than here and there from time to time, until recent years. Theirson Cliff Koeninger, a gifted architect, had deigned for them a strikingly beautiful and soaring home in South Austin. I was in and out of Austin a lot, and they told me one time to come stay, with them, and I did, and still do. They call the room I sleep in “Ronnie’s room,” and they never complain that I usually come in at ten at night or midnight, or leave before dawn. “You remember,” Ralph Pease said, “when you were a small child and you would go to see your grandparents and how they were so happy to see you? Remember how wonderful it felt to be greeted with such enthusiasm and affection every time? That’s how Rupert and Ethel have always made their friends feel. No explanations were necessary. They’re glad you’re here.” Rupert pulled catfish out of the Colorado at a special place on the river he liked to fish; I have eaten his catfish at the Koeningers’ table. He had set up, in a room near the garage, his lapidary shop, where he fashioned stones into smooth and glistening forms of many colors, and suspended them on leather thongs. I bought two of these off him and took them to my wife. He was always cheerful, even when he lost his sight in one eye in the quarter of our orbal vision that lies, as he said, between 9 and 12 o’clock. He was with everything that anybody said, and he laughed, it seemed, more than anyone elseand the Koeningers are a jolly bunch at table, laughing readily and so intelligently that among them laughter is the same as thought. Rupert and I talked often about a book of Indian place names in the United States which he was compiling, state by state. As Dr. Hugh Cunningham, a professor of journalism at Sam Houston State, said, Rupert’s wish to pay tribute to the American Indians he loved was expressed through this work, He meant it to be a thousand-page hardback reference book. Dan Rather, a student of his 40 years ago, agreed to write the introduction. Last November Rupert went camping and fishing alone at the camper park at Pedernales State Park. Along toward evening he had pains and went to the ranger station. Although he said he could drive he was taken by EMS to the hospital in Austin. He had had a heart attack, but he seemed all right. His son Cliff said a nurse came in and asked him, “What can I do for you? What would you like?” and Rupert’s face broke into the wry smile that was characteristic of him and he said, “Peace.” A little later, he died. After a little while, the Koeningers’ daughter Freida, who is finishing her Ph.D. in Spanish literature at the University of Texas, and a friend of hers, went out to the Pedernales to be where he had been last. “We saw these huge catfish in the river,” Frieda said. “This big blue heron settled close to us by the river, and kind of watched us. In about half an hour, we saw about fifteen deer. And these big catfish right down there in the waterthat heron flew around near us for half an hour.” “You took us out to the Reservation to meet your friends among the Chippewa and into the swamps to find the black ash from which they showed us how to make the baskets,” a former student of Rupert’s in Central Michigan, Charles Westie, wrote to him, after he had died. “You taught us that they were the first to use this part of the earth, and that we were the guests of these Native Americans. They made you one of them. This was more than 50 years ago. “You sent us to the migrant labor camps to learn about the inhumane conditions created in them by Good Christians. You sent us to the state prisons and arranged for some of us to teach the prisoners some of the things that might make them better members of the society. You sent some of us to the slums of big cities to learn about the downtrodden.” If Emerson was fatuous, and he was, in teaching us that for every injustice there is an offsetting compensation, still, in Rupert Koeninger’s life he had Ethel, his children, his grandchildren, and that was no divine accident, he had them because he was so good and did so much good and went on trying to do good all the time he wasn’t fishing or lapidating or fuming at the moral madness or enjoying the glimpsed moral promise of these years we live together. At the memorial service Ralph Pease said, “Right now he’s registering voters and looking for Democrats in heaven. He is where injustice is unheard of, where feelings are easily expressed and always accepted, a place where nature is respected and where the fishing is always good.” As those of us he left . stood around the Koeningers’ laden Thanksgiving table, Freida said, “Dear God, Thank you for rocks and trees and flowers, for nature. Thank you for friends, for family, for love, for beauty, for art. Thank you for life, for our wonderful lives. Thank you for this food. Amen.” David Duke Issue Reprints! Reprints of the Jan. 17 & 31 special issue on David Duke are on hand for immediate shipment or for mailing to the persons you designate at the following rates, postage included: 1-4 copies $3.00 each 25-49 copies $2.00 each 5-9 copies $2.50 each 50-99 copies $1.75 each 10-24 copies…$2.25 each 100-249 copies $1.50 each For larger quantities, call Cliff Olofson at the Observer for the price: Send your order and prepayment to: Texas Observer Reprints, 307 West 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9 etw,S.V.1.44 ,ora, 71.P.M1A .pat .W7.1101:r