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Leonard Pung, 1961-2012

Yesterday we lost the generous and wry Leonard Pung.  He had recently been diagnosed with leukemia, and suffered rapid respiratory consequences from the disease and/or the chemotherapy.  He had sent his friends an optimistic e-mail about his treatment within a day or two before he died.

I met Leonard at the Clarion Writers Workshop at UCSD in 2009.  He wrote stories full of yearning, but in real life was full of humor — there was no context in which he would not utter the most outrageous pun he could think of.  He was a kind but firm critic, a supportive friend, and a good man at a party.  The warmth of his heart you could feel across a room; he loved people, and let them know it.  After many years as a whitewater raftng guide and middle school English teacher, he walked away from it all and devoted himself to pursuit of a Master's in Professional Writing degree at USC.

The personal loss hurts; the artistic loss we cannot know, as Leonard was just at the beginning of his career as a writer.  Like me, he discovered his ambition late in life, and he found the courage to embrace it without looking at the consequences.  How I shall miss him!

Go with the stars, Leonard; I hope that somewhere you are captivating angels with your tales and eliciting groans from the heavens with your wit.

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