The news of Gennady Aleksandrovich Barabtarlo’s passing should not have caught me off-guard, but I must confess to finding myself lost for words at a moment that I knew would be coming. If I were to try to find a reason to my being at a loss today, I would have to attribute it to my irrational sense that Gennady Aleksandrovich’s rectitude, his convictions, and indeed faith would prove a bulwark against even the most potent and cunning of afflictions. No such luck, of course, but even in the haze of this sad, impossible day it is already becoming clear that this is not where this story ends.
No reader of Gennady Aleksandrovich’s scholarship needs my word to persuade them of the solidity of his pioneering, visionary scholarship or the specificity and originality of his literary works. His writing style in both English and Russian stops one in one’s tracks — impersonal it is not — and like everything else with this particular gentleman it does so for a reason. Where one is tempted to rush onward, he suggests stopping to contemplate and consider; where one might wish to be spared the complexity of a given issue, he is certain to find a way to make one’s life a bit more complex, a bit less convenient, and a lot more meaningful. This is not something that is going to change with his passing.
If Gennady Aleksandrovich’s writing style was informed by his convictions and intuitions, his actions followed the sense of honor and duty that were deliberately old-fashioned, and this is a point where a witness testimony would not be out of place.
Among so many other people, I will remember his kindness, generosity, and hospitality. Gennady Aleksandrovich was quick to help. The sight of him blessing tenderly Alla Alekseevna as she leaves for work one crisp Missourian morning I will not forget as something I consider myself lucky to have witnessed. Like all lives, his was a finite one, yet his was certainly filled with accomplishment and significance, with kindness and love given and returned.
Memory everlasting, Gennady Aleksandrovich. Sincerest, heartfelt condolences to his dearest and nearest. Gennady Aleksandrovich Barabtarlo may be gone, but the fruits of his life's work, his perseverance cannot but continue to inspire.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill