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The EK1

Some guys deserve more than one obituary, so here are two for Rick.

Maybe it is a poorer man who waits until someone has died to speak good of him, than the man who waits until he is dead to speak ill of him. I always hoped that Rick knew how much I appretiated him, but being a guy I never got around to expressing it verbally.

I have known Rick for about 15 years. We had some ups and downs, I am happy to say, far more up than down. As a friend and a moderater it did not take long to find out that Rick could throw a wobbly with the best of them, and as a friend and a moderater damage control was sometimes part of the portfolio, but a small price to pay for his presence.  

In 1950 Japan created a program by which living people could be designated as „national treasures“, an example that has been followed by various other countries.  

We collectors may live in a world of our own, but we have no own country. As such I cannot say Rick was a national treasure, the highest accolade I can pay is to say that he was an asset at every level.  

To the collecting community he was an asset. Along with Daniel Kraus he put his nose to the grindstone and produced published works that cost much effort, for little gain, but all was done to doggedly fill important gaps on the Phaleristic bookshelf.  

To GMIC he was an asset, a gem. Where Rick laid his hat, interesting collectors congregated. Rick and his knowlege were a magnet that attracted questions and collectors like no other.  

To me, as a collector he was an asset. The amount of times where I was stymied with a detail in a Militärpass, or in a mans career, and Rick had an insperation... das geht auf keine Kuhhaut.  

To me, as me, he was an asset because it is a good thing to have a person to shame you into following his exapmle and help other collectors out, and accepting that on occasion there will not even be a thank you.  

Rick was a big man, with a big heart, and on occasion a short fuse ;-)

So what legacy does Rick leave? A wise man once said to me, when I was dragging my feet on a project, that 10 000 forum posts does not a legacy make. A single book is infinately more valuable.  

Rick went about it the hard way, along with Daniel they undertook the seemingly thankless task of transcribing medal rolls. It is a nose to the grindstone job, not many would do it, but what they achieved, putting thousands of Soldiers, hidden in dusty archives, back within reach of researchers and collectors. Each of those rolls save soldiers from oblivion.  

Identifying medal bars will probably always remain more of an art than a science, but it was an art Rick excelled in. As long as we accept that medal rolls will never be 100% complete, Rick worked with the materials availible and I believe he worked magic. It is possible that for one reason or another, a missing piece of information or a crooked dealer that his success rate was not 100%, but I don't think anyone can do the job without a few misses and I doubt we will see anyone with a success rate like Rick's in the near future.  

Rick not only helped collectors to "name" their bars, he also brought soldiers long dead, back to life. Every bar identified was a man saved from oblivion. Men whose great grandchilren may not even know their names, live on because a collector does. 

Rick was not only GOOD at what he did, he did it with a GOODHEART, He identified medal bars, sending the owners away with a big smile on their face, and a more valuable piece in their pocket.... and he basically did it for free.  

THAT is the reason Nick named this forum after him. The GMIC Imperial research forum was Rick's „Home from Home“, and I am sure he would have liked the thought that his name was on the door, even though he has moved out.....

Above: Rick's Travelling Circus - Militaria on the road!

Ulsterman knew Rick not only Online, but also face to face... a pleasure I never had. He writes below....

Richard "Rick" Lundstrom was killed in a car accident on the morning of September 17,  2013 only a few hundred feet from the modest home he shared with his aged mother and had lived in almost his whole life. He was 57 years old.  

A native of south West Massachusetts, Rick was from an old and distinguished Yankee family, a fact he took great pride in.  

A professional genealogist and historian, Rick obtained a Bachelors and Masters degree in history and was about to go start a PHD program at the University of Massachusetts under Harold Gordon, when Gordon suddenly dropped dead. Gordon had been in Germany before the war and watched aghast, the rise of the Nazi party in Bavaria. Later he  served as a German expert with US intelligence during and after the war. His office was filled with rare original interviews and documents, including dozens of Bavarian Landespolezei personnel files on the Nazis collected in the the 1920s. Gordons' speciality was the Reichsheer officer corps and he had known well many of the men who would lead the Wehrmacht under Hitler. As Rick once told me, Gordon would say things like, "Oh, I met him at Von Epps' goddaughters' house" or "That guy was a real Son of a Bitch. He got a girl pregnant and then blamed a half-Jewish salesman so that poor bastard got beaten to death by the SA  and the girl was abandoned." Rick and I one spent the better part of an afternoon ransacking the basement of the library at UMass, but found almost all the remaining Gordon ephemera had been thrown into the trash decades before.  In one cruel blow, Rick lost his Fellowship, his Mentor and his future as an academic historian.  

Rick began to collect medals at an early age after the loss of his father. He became interested in the imperial German army after reading a number of early books on the subject and later joined OMSA. He wrote a number of articles for the OMSA Medal Collector Magazine, notably on the rare Chinese Expedition clasps awarded during the Boxer Rebellion and awards of exiled Royal Houses.  

He later resigned from OMSA after the then Secretary crudely insulted him after he had blackballed the membership application of a well known dealer who had deliberately sold Rick a crude fake EK1 as a " late war example". As Rick said, "I was a  13 year old child and saved up my paper money for six months for that medal and that S.O.B. ripped me off. He knew it was a tin fake and took advantage .....and then they got mad when I pointed it out? "  Despite my pleas, he refused to ever reconsider rejoining OMSA, stating, "that door is shut".  

Rick however, through OMSA, was fortunate to meet and gradually became friends with the famous "Seymour/Ludvigson/O'Conner  Circle" of imperial German collectors. These men were all collectors of the old school. Urbane,scholarly and cultured, these Gentlemen collected medals and ephemera for their love of the history that the objects represented. They had all served in the military against the Axis and used their research skills to flesh out the history of their collections.  

As Rick described it, these early, great collector/historians enjoyed  decades researching, collecting and rediscovering lost and forgotten aspects of German history. They collected rare books and genealogical documents and conducted original research, often traveling to Europe to find lost archives and abandoned medal rolls. In the era before the Internet, information collection, editing and research was a slow, expensive, laborious task, but these men all followed their passion with good humor and scholarly integrity that is awe inspiring today.

I had the good fortune to meet Rick the week after he first signed on to Jody Beltrams' original Militeria Board. standing at Regina Greens' table at Lowell, I heard him ask her, " Have you ever heard of the Wehrmacht Awards Forum?  It's kind of neat!"  Regina was Ricks' German teacher in High School.  

Ricks' arrival on the WAF was like a thunderbolt. One man had posted a imperial/Third Reich German officers' medal bar and Ricks detailed explanation of the medals, when they were awarded and who the man was made my jaw hit the floor. Up until that moment medal bars were at best a collection of individual medals. The fact that a bar told a detailed story and that by cross indexing original sources, one might discover who the original officer was, was the stuff of fantasy. Ricks' detailed,methodical, erudite, witty and almost always accurate posts on the WAF helped educate hundreds of collectors. Within only a few years, ribbon bar and medal bars that had originally sold for the value of individual medals climbed dramatically in value.  

Ricks' enthusiasm for awards and the history behind was infectious. I often joked with him that I was glad I had bought my Tamara Order before he arrived on the scene, because once he started to write about such things, the price soon became unobtainable for me. Inspired by Ricks' example and with his help, dozens of other historians used his methods to reexamine old documents to reclaim lost records and help create a master index of imperial awards. Others in different fields also began to use his systematic methodology to examine awards and their history as well.  Ricks research, his assistance and above all, his lucid, cheerful and detailed writing was enormously influential.

Rick served as a Senior Moderator at the WAF with his best friend, Rick Versailles, until 2005, when he moved over to the GMIC. His magnificent articles on ribbon bars can still be seen on both sites. He transcribed and published a number of medal rolls with Daniel Krause and at his death was working on several projects.  

Rick was a quiet, shy man. Almost always cheerful,  he was happy to offer his encyclopedic knowledge of history to anyone who asked and did so with wit and a friendly grin. He resented being taken advantage of and despised bullies of any type. It bewildered and infuriated him when he was unilaterally attacked by those who did so out of ego or because they disagreed with his assessments of objects on the internet. Often his attackers had a financial or egotistical axe to grind and it must be remembered that Rick never made any money off of his efforts, never dealt in militeria, nor charged for his services. "Its all for history" he once told me, sardonically.  He was generous, honorable and kind and often took care of elderly neighbors and stray animals in his neighborhood. He was fluent in German, could read suterlien  with ease and was self taught in Russian and Latin. He joked his French was "goat-like", but he read napoleonic documents with ease. He loved murder mystery novels and bad puns.  

Yesterday I saw a beautiful ( and reasonably priced) 1870 Beamter's ribbon bar on Sasha Wochslers' latest update. My first impulse was to buy it and I thought, "oh, Rick would love to see this" and I could imagine him examining it excitedly and then running into his den to consult his tomes. Rick instantly would have recognized and understood the "story" of the bar ....and then I remembered ...... he is gone.

I will miss Rick Lundstrom every day of the rest of my life. Collecting will just not be as much fun for me somehow. I know that hundreds of others will probably feel the same way.  

But I take some comfort in the belief that  his life was not wasted. Rick's efforts inspired dozens of others to rediscover and reexamine old sources, to publish and connect and illuminate the history behind the medals that the military history community appreciates so very much.

I truly believe he was a great historian/Gentleman and a catalytic genius. I  Was fortunate to know him.