LonPaul Stewart Ellrich
I traveled to my hometown of Indianapolis last weekend and during my trip, I learned of the sudden and unexpected passing of my childhood friend LonPaul. Thanks to John Cornwell for providing the photos posted here as well as a few thoughts.
Riley Gordon, Lea Grubbs, LonPaul & Clynt Grubbs 1977
It has been 34 years since I first met LonPaul, when his family moved in two doors down from mine on Park Avenue. I was 5 years older and at first LonPaul was simply the annoying red-headed kid who seemed to always be following around our group of mostly older kids who roamed the neighborhood. Eventually we became friendly and then friends as he was tenacious about being included in what was going on in the neighborhood. In truth, I think he sort of intimidated many of us, because even then it was obvious that his intelligence and insights exceeded what we were used to.
John,myself & LonPaul
Lea, John, LonPaul, Lela & Chip
His interest in music was apparent early on as well. I have a distinct memory of him knocking on my door and making me follow him back to his house and up to his room to listen to a new 45 that he gotten, Paul McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs”. He played it incessantly and I remember him telling me not only that it was the greatest song ever, but why with insights and observations well beyond that of the average 6 year old. Along with his good friend, John Cornwell, LonPaul published and distributed a neighborhood newspaper, “Park Avenue Facts & Fun” which included neighborhood news, “Mr. Brown purchased a new car” as well as music reviews and puzzles and games.
LP, Justin, Tim Micheli, Ed Gordon & John -1977
Park Avenue News
We remained friends until about the time he went to high school and then drifted apart as one might expect. I moved to Key West in 1991 and while I followed his musical career and sort of knew what he was up to, we fell almost completely out of touch for years, until the magic of myspace and mutual friends got us back in touch about 3 years ago or so. I had not seen him for years, when while visiting Indianapolis a couple of years back, I stopped in to see him and we spent an hour or two reconnecting, catching up and reminiscing about our shared childhood experiences. He seemed to be in such a positive place and his face literally light up when he spoke of being a father. Perhaps that is why I was so stunned to learn of his passing while visiting Indianapolis this past weekend. Somehow his loss hit me particularly hard, despite my relatively few interactions in the past few years. He was just such a unique, beautiful and talented individual. My wife Kathy & I want to express our deepest sympathies to all his family, friends, fans and acquaintances. I am sorry that we will be unable to attend the services in person to share our thoughts directly, but be assured that you are all in our thoughts
Halloween John & LP
And these memories from John Cornwell…
One day in 1972 I was walking down Park Ave with my mother, and I heard someone cry out "Come play with me, be my friend". I went over and LonPaul and I became best friends for about 10 years. We hung out together nearly every day and for a while I even forsake some of my other friends in favor of LP, spending countless hours up in his room playing records, making tapes, writing puppet show scripts (one of which we actually performed), and watching Space 1999 and Monty Python. We even ran away together one day in 1979 and walked out to Ft Harrison so he could find his dad at the Finance Center, then we were going to walk around the entire city using sparklers for nighttime illumination. We published a neighborhood newsletter together for a couple years, "The Park Magazine Facts & Fun", which was nothing but pure plagiarism from Dynamite and 3-2-1 Contact magazines. I couldn't begin to count the hours we spent together throughout the '70s. I remember he had a drum kit, bongos, and a keyboard in his room for years, and we used to talk about how one day the whole world would be connected by computers. I started to lose touch with him in the early '80s, arguing about how cool or nasty Bill Murray was in Caddyshack- he thought Murray was cool, I thought otherwise. Now I realize LonPaul was right. I didn't see him again until 2002, when we spent one wonderful day together again. He had turned out so cool that I really regretted not having spoken to him for 20 years and looked forward to seeing him regularly again; unfortunately that never happened. I would hear things about him from time to time and always wanted to get back in touch, but alas, as always time just slips away. God rest your soul, my friend; you were an awesome guy and will be missed.
-John CornwellLonPaul MemoriesObituary