Linda Dégh passed away yesterday. I feel lucky to have undergone one of the great rites of passage of modern folklore: being taken to task slash eviscerated by her in a public forum. It's the opening paragraph of A Vulgar Art:
That was my first encounter with her. We met several times since, and every time she didn't remember me, because, in the world of folklore, standing next to her, who the fuck was I? It's okay: being forgotten by her was not insulting. She was old as the hills. Her former students (many of them full professors) treated her with a blend of fear and awe, and her aura sent them right back to nervous first-year undergraduate status. As trite as the inevitable "we have a true legend with us today" introduction was, there was a swirl of stories associated with her, not all flattering, and not to be repeated here. But there were good odds that she would never, ever die. Without a wooden stake and some garlic, at least.
So, rest in peace, you terrifying, awesome broad.