Richard de Berry, the FDL front page writer known as Southern Dragon, died peacefully in hospice last night shortly after 4am. He was 68 years old.
He was fearless, loyal and committed to fighting for a more just and equitable society.
Richard was born on November 29, 1943. He was a decorated Viet Nam combat veteran whose experiences made him a committed activist. He was a cat lover who got us all going in the morning with his “mornin’, pups” in his Lakeside Diner column, who also led a Marx in the Morning discussion series.
Richard was admitted to the VA hospital on October 6 with atrial fibrillation and emphysema. His good friend and FDL community member OmAli kept us all updated about his condition as it progressed, and we’re deeply grateful to her for doing that..
The doctors finally got his heart condition stabilized only to find out two weeks ago that he had stage 4 squamous lung cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes and brain.
He was subsequently treated with radiation but last Thursday he moved into hospice at the VA after his doctors decided he was not strong enough for additional radiation or chemo. He wanted to write a diary about it but he didn’t have access to hospital wifi, so on Saturday I went to Verizon to get one for him so he could see all the love and support he was receiving here in the comments. Sadly they were all sold out due to the storm.
Yesterday morning OmAli let everyone know that his prognosis was not good, but that SD was courageous in the face of it:
Can I tell you something he said last night? I think it applies to all of us. I asked him if it was really true, what was happening. That I kept hoping it was a bad dream. He said, no, it is reality, and it is swirling all around you. Your job is to stand strong.
That’s what we must do.
You always stood strong for us SD. I deeply deeply regret that I did not get to say goodbye to you but I am so happy you left us with such grace and did not suffer. We were so lucky to have your wisdom, your spirit and your compassion here at FDL for the all-too-brief time you were with us.
This was Richard’s favorite quotation, which began his Lakeside Diner column on September 13:
Only after the last tree has been cut down. Only after the last fish has been caught. Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only then will you realize that money cannot be eaten. — Cree Nation Tribal Prophecy
Goodbye, old friend. May we honor all you gave us for so many years by living by those words.