I've been digging through my livejournal to try to figure out exactly when I ran into him... I think I met him via the catholicism group on livejournal, but given how many people in catholicism I knew in other ways... I'm not quite sure.
I did dig through my email, and the first one I can find from him to me is from 2006. This is why I don't delete email - I have a record of my conversations with many people I never met in person, but befriended online. I did meet the Judge and his wife once, in person -- it was at a church in NYC (I believe it was at Fr. Rutler's previous parish, which was near where I worked in Midtown East.)
I wasn't close to Bob, but we had a great time just chatting about Catholicism and then just a few ephemeral things. He liked needling me about the Red Sox (he was a Sox fan, and I was a Mets fan), and he would send me links he knew I would like. He used to do it in email, and then in Facebook messenger.
Here is a fairly representative sample:
And he supported me and Stu with prayer, and let me know:
This was our last chat:
I have so many online friends that I chat with in a similar manner, many of whom I will never see in person, and some of whom I don't even know what they look like... and may never know.
I did get to meet Bob in person once, but even if I never had, it wouldn't have made a difference.
I loved the lazy way we shared ideas - if you look at time/date stamps, usually one would make a remark, and a day or two would elapse before we'd respond. I talked literature, Catholicism, and sometimes even opera with him (more that he knew I was into opera, and he'd send me some stuff).
I will miss our discussions, lazy as they were.
I bought his books in the past...but I forget where my copies are. So I'm going to re-buy them, so I can feel like I'm chatting with him again.
I especially loved this one: Where Do We Find Such Men?
That book is about men who came from his town of Amsterdam, NY (which I have yet to visit), who served in World War II, giving profiles of each one. I remember his individual posts on the people who had served.
I didn't realize he had a followup book: Honor Roll: The World War II Dead of Amsterdam, NY
Covering those from Amsterdam, NY who died in the war.
An article remembers Bob's dedication to local history:
AMSTERDAM -- Robert Neil Going loved history, especially when it pertained to World War II and Montgomery County.
A Troy native who moved to Amsterdam as a young boy, Going died Wednesday at Albany Medical Center following a stroke on Feb. 2. He was 67. A Bishop Scully High School graduate who went on to the University at Albany and Albany Law School, Going was a former assistant district attorney for Montgomery County, as well as a City Court and Family Court judge.
Going wrote two books on Amsterdam's history: "Honor Roll: The World War II Dead of Amsterdam, N.Y.," and, "Where Do We Find Such Men." Michael Cinquanti, another Amsterdam historian with two books to his credit, said Going was the man he contacted when he had a question that could not be answered.
"Our paths crossed because of our interest in local history, and he was the guy who had an encyclopedic knowledge of the city of Amsterdam," Cinquanti said of Going. "He was my go-to guy. He would know who the mayor was during a particular time period, and he would also know who ran for alderman and the many people who have represented different wards in the city. He knew all about our city government and its system."
Cinquanti said Going's two books on World War II and how it affected Amsterdam residents were must-reads for lovers of local history.
"He talked to so many families and people about their loved ones and the contribution they made during the war," said Cinquanti. "It really was a wonderful book about veterans. It touched a lot of people, and I don't think there are too many cities the size of Amsterdam that had a source available to them like Bob. He was amazing."
I am very much into this sort of history -- the detail, and the specificity of locality. Both Stu & I have gotten very much into Croton Falls history, though we're not from here, but this is our home now.
I will so miss Bob's stories, but I will not miss his prayers, as I know he will continue to pray for us. And we will pray for him and his family.