Thursday, September 6, 2012

In Memoriam

In Memoriam
I reported to my new duty station at Naval Submarine Base, Point Loma, California, in June, 1991. Soon after settling in, I telephoned Chuck Vadun, who I knew lived in the San Diego area. I was a fan of Chuck’s “Crusty Old Wargamer” column and cartoons in Practical Wargamer and his “Wargamer’s Notebook” page in the Hal Thinglum’s wonderful Midwest Wargamer’s Association Newsletter. I was anxious to meet a guy whose enthusiasm for wargaming rivaled my own. I pretty much invited myself up to Chuck’s spread in Ranch Peñasquitos, about 15 miles north of San Diego. We met for the first time that weekend.
We hit it off immediately, and over the next three and a half years, Chuck and I spent countless hours together gaming, painting and sometimes just chewing the fat. Chuck had made his bones as an big deal advertising executive and was by then freelancing out of his home, with the help of his wife, Lynne, as an independent advertising agent and also as a cartoonist and illustrator. He was the most talented and creative person I have ever known. At the same time, Chuck was a regular guy who always had a wisecrack ready. He was simply a joy to be around.
Chuck had a room upstairs with a large wargaming table, an elaborate painting station set up in his garage, and shelves upon shelves of reference books. We played Napoleonics, American Civil War and British Colonial, but Napoleonics was always our main area of interest. Chuck’s favorite troops were Eugene’s Italians, and his 15mm Italians were magnificent. But they looked better than they fought, a fact about which Chuck was certainly aware and which he bemoaned with his dry humor to no end. We played Napoleonics using at first Empire and later Napoleon’s Battles in 15mm, but always talked about creating our own old school style rules and painting fictional 25mm armies arrayed in glossy, gaudy uniforms of our own design, what eventually became Dressed to Kill.

I moved back home to Texas after my discharge from the Navy in 1994, but Chuck and I stayed in touch. In 1998, I went back to California for a visit and we began planning what eventually became Dressed to Kill as a long distance project. Soon after returning home - by that time home was Vicksburg, Mississippi - I mailed Chuck several hundred Prince August homecast figures and I painted my first unit for our new game, a squadron of pink and white horse grenadiers homecast from Prince August 25mm Napoleonic British Scots Greys molds.

In 2002, I made my last trip to the west coast to visit Chuck. He had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. I drove 24 hours straight from Mississippi to California to attend his memorial service. We had communicated by taking turns calling each other on weekends and exchanging regular emails. Then several of my emails over a period of three days went unanswered. I only found out Chuck was gone when his girlfriend (he had separated from Lynne) finally answered my emails and told me the sad news.

Chuck’s memorial service was at his home, by then in downtown San Diego. His painting table was arranged in such a way that it seemed as if he would saunter in any minute and declare that it was all a big joke, but it was not a joke as it turned out.  Chuck was gone.  With Chuck’s passing, I lost a great friend and we all lost a wonderful guy. I do not think that I will ever have such a friend again.

I finally completed the rules for Dressed to Kill last year and have continued to paint figures for the game at the rate of five or six units a year, give or take, as a way of honoring and remembering my friend. Dressed to Kill is written in a style that I think Chuck would have enjoyed playing. I dedicated Dressed to Kill to my friend who I still think of regularly and miss very much.

                                             Dan Richardson

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