John D. Hannah, known in various online libertarian circles as JsubD, died several days ago. He was fifty-five years old. A retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer and a widower who years later still mourned the death of his wife, John lived in the Detroit area and was reportedly homeless and living in shelters the last few months of his life. He would, according to one shelter operator, walk over to Wayne State University library every day, presumably to use their computers.
Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom wrote of John's death here. Ironically, had he not decided to write about John and "the death of being forgotten," those of us who knew John as well as one can know online friends, knew of his terminal illness and were distraught by his failure in the last several months to tell us of his status might never have learned of his death. One member of the discussion forum we all frequented, a woman known among her friends for her relentless tenacity and in general for her feral genius, found the Albom column. From there we had only to perform the sad task of correlating what Albom wrote with what we knew of JsubD to confirm it was one and the same person.
John may have died homeless or, in any case, having chosen to live at the shelter for several months prior to his death. He was, however, a highly intelligent, knowledgeable and articulate man who was also clearly aware of his situation and the options available to him when we heard from him last on that discussion forum. I have every reason to believe, in other words, that the circumstances of his final months were significantly of his own choosing.
Far from forgotten, John had simply become temporarily disconnected from his family and his many online friends, one of the inevitable risks of exclusively internet friendships. I counted him as a friend, I mourn his passing and I will remember him.