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.