Stephen Speicher died in the hospital after recently suffering a heart attack. I send my condolences to Betsy Speicher and all of Stephen's family and friends.
When I first got on the internet in 1996 I found my way to the usenet forums, alt.philosophy.objectivism and then humanities. philosophy.objectivism. I discovered a lot of libertarian types there who made the forums exasperating and unpleasant, but there were also some Objectivists arguing their side. Among the Objectivists there was none so doughty and courageous as Stephen Speicher. He would fight back against any irrational opinion, any smear of Ayn Rand or other prominent Objectivists, or any distortion of the philosophy. He single-handedly made hpo interesting and kept me reading it as long as I did.
Stephen called hpo a "cesspool," which it certainly was, and eventually left it with Betsy to create a happier, more rational place for Objectivists to exchange opinions on the internet, the Forum for Ayn Rand Fans.
We communicated via email about an interest we share -- or I guess I should now write shared -- the Aristotelians of Renaissance Padua, Pomponazzi and Zabarella. Very little has been written about Renaissance Aristotelians in English, and I mentioned how frustrated I was because I could not find William F. Edwards's dissertation, The Logic of Iacopo Zabarella on the internet. Stephen got it for me through a service for academics.
I never met the man. I hoped I would meet him and his wife at an ARI speech in Southern California someday, and I planned to introduce myself and thank him in person for sending Edwards's dissertation. I did not get around to it and now it will never happen.
It would be inaccurate, perhaps, to say that a man I never met was a friend, but I feel as though I have lost a friend. You can learn a lot about people just by reading their words. He was an internet friend, you could say. Stephen Speicher's death is a great loss to internet Objectivism.
UPDATE: Betsy Speicher on Stephen.