The Old Guard

Kent Haruf (’65), Salida, Colorado

The recent deaths of Leon Satterfield and Bill Kloefkorn, and the earlier death of Harold Hall, mark the sad passing of the old guard for me.

I went to Nebraska Wesleyan in 1961 thinking I’d be a biology teacher, but when I came under the influence of these three men, and took classes from them, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life studying literature, and maybe some day trying to write a little of my own.

They also changed the way I looked at the world, generally, and changed how I thought about religion and politics and civil rights and how I regarded government. They were my teachers and my mentors, and they changed my life.

I feel gratefully beyond words, to have known them.

Haruf’s 1999 novel Plainsong was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the New Yorker Book Award.