The East Kingdom Gazette is saddened to report the unexpected passing of The Honorable Lord Wulfang Gruenwald, mundanely known as Robert Betts, on Saturday, November 5th, 2016. Wulfgang joined the SCA in 2009 after being brought to Ghosts, Ghouls, & Goblins and tossed into the kitchen by his Lady, Tysha z Kieva. He was awarded arms in 2011 by Lucan VIII & Jana V, received a Silver Crescent, Burdened Tyger, Tyger of Foreign Legions, as well as the King’s & Queen’s Awards of Esteem, and a Light of Carillion during his time in the SCA. A resident of the Barony of Carillion, he was protegéd to Maîtresse Jehannine de Flandres, and was a member of House Grog.
Visitation will be this Tuesday, November 8th from 6pm-8pm at O’Brien Funeral Home in Wall, New Jersey. Full details are available by clicking here.
MaîtresseJehannine de Flandres was Wulfgang’s Peer, and shared the following:
Wulfgang was a man who inspired a love of cooking and touched so many people in the SCA and beyond. His love of bacon, his laugh, and his generosity are some of the things that I will miss the most. He had such a wonderful way of bringing people into his circle and making them feel like family. It was this passion that we shared and why he asked me to be his Peer and mentor. Over the years I watched him strive to create wonderful feasts for Royals, Runnymeade, and his friends’ vigils. His kitchens were always filled with laughter and joy.
From the time Wulfgang entered our game he sought to return the love and welcome he received from his Barony, to all those he encountered. From his friends THL Ingvar Thorsteinsson & THL Hasanah al Khalil ibn Habib :
Wulfgang was the kind of guy you just wanted to be around; the kind of person who would give you what you needed, be it a shot of whisky, a plate of food, the shirt off his back, or his boot in your backside… he lived his personal life just as chivalrous at an event or in a disaster relief kitchen.
Many remember the disaster relief kitchen Wulfgang organized in Sandy Hook, New Jersey following the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy. He gathered hundreds of volunteers, from SCAdians, to friends from Rainbow family communities, and many others, to come to a town struggling to survive in the devastation to their community in the aftermath of a storm. This massive undertaking, organized with the town leaders by Wulfgang served hundreds of meals per day during the clean-up efforts in difficult conditions. Master Mael Eoin mac Echuid, Baron of Bhakail describes Wulfgang and his deeds during that time this way:
Wulfgang was a person to aspire to. The nicest guy, he would not only give you the shirt off his back, if he didn’t have a shirt, he’d reach out to his numerous networks of friends and see who might be able to help… He was that guy… he was someone I wish I could be; if I could do half of what he’s done, be half as good a person, I’d be happy.
Bob, Gave… simple and straightforward. We wanted to attend NRWC a few years back and had no camp infrastructure of our own and we got chatting a bit. He told us to camp with them. All we had to do was show up. He took care of us and opened his hearth. And even though yes we were good friends, he would have done this for anyone – friend or stranger.
Whether it was a new cook showing up in an SCA kitchen for the first time, a town in need of three hot meals a day while recovering from staggering loss, or a wandering stranger in need of a meal, Wulfgang was an ever-present, living embodiment of hospitality. Much of that hospitality was given through the talent and skill Wulfgang had as a chef, respected far and wide for his knowledge of smoked meat. Bob was often found in SCA kitchens, one particular occasion was recalled by Their Graces Brennan & Caoilfhionn, who shared their thoughts:
Bob was a kind, generous, compassionate, and passionate man. He always had a way to make people smile. He was incredibly fast to volunteer to cook the feast for our first Coronation, and we were honored to have him help us put together a dinner for the Princes and Princesses of the Knowne World at Pennsic 44. He was a visionary with food. He was a treasure as a friend. He was a true gem of the East Kingdom. His light was so very warm and bright, and it went out way too soon. Our world is noticeably, painfully darker for his absence.
Her Majesty Anna recalls her time spent with Wulfgang in that very kitchen at Pennsic 44 and shared the following:
…I got to spend time cooking with him and several other wonderful people. We had so much fun, we were all laughing so hard, we were sure we were having more fun than the Royal kids were. Such a good man, I will think of him often, especially if I’m in a kitchen.
Brion very much enjoyed spending the day with him at Rapier Champions two weeks ago. Just hanging out and talking, getting to know each other better. You never know when its going to be the last time you get to see somebody.
Many know of Wulfgang’s efforts in the kitchen, but his generosity, hard work, and dedication to all he met extended beyond the feast hall and campfire. He was an annual presence during Pennsic Staff Week, arriving well before attendees to haul equipment around site, dig, pound stakes, and just about any task set at his feet. This enormous effort continued in many ways throughout the event, with time spent volunteering with both The Watch and Technical Services. Master Rupert the Unbalanced shared the following memory of Wulfgang at Pennsic:
Many of my fondest memories of Wulfgang are from Pennsic. One in particular revolves around his rule concerning the solar cell phone charger in his camp. Anyone could use the charger, so long as it didn’t ring while under his fly. One person violated this rule. The first time, his phone’s language was changed to French. The second time, Wulfgang dropped his drawers and took a selfie of his butt. Then, he made [that] the wallpaper of said violator’s phone. It was truly a quintessential Wulfgang moment.
Rules and traditions are the cornerstone of any family unit, whether formed though blood or by choice, and Wulfgang sought to create and continue traditions that will surely last amongst his chosen family. Again from Maîtresse Jehannine:
Pennsic morning coffee around his table became a camp tradition, and many a good story or Pennsic battle cry would come from the morning discussions, even once a good-natured water balloon fight with Bhakail. He started the tradition of a Thanksgiving feast for the camp and friends, which became a special evening filled with laughter and friendship.
Even back home, in the Barony of Carillion, Wulfgang served others. First, in kitchens, then as Canton Chatelaine, then Canton Seneschal, and most recently as Baronial Seneschal. He also served when construction projects came along, and was always quick to lend a hand. His friend and household member, Master Erhart von Stuttgart shared the following:
So many deep conversations were had that only consisted of grunts, “want a beer?”, “hungry?”, “try this.”, “hand me that tool.” [Wulfgang] had many skills that he would happily share and teach to anyone who asked.
When asked to describe Wulfgang, Maîtresse Jehannine said the following:
Pennsic… coffee… bacon… wood working… loud… humorous… ball-buster… generous… scotch and beer, brother… Protege… these are some words to describe the man that touched my life. He honored me by letting me serve as his mentor and Peer. In truth, he taught me just as much and he will forever remind me of what this Society means.
To Wulfgang, the SCA was about love and family, and Carillion was also a large part of Wulfgang’s extended family. His long-time friends and current Baron & Baroness of Carillion, Corcrán & Luned shared the following:
He made the loss of Cosmo a softer blow by continuing to bring us all together… now that he is gone, the loss is that much greater. There is a hole in all our hearts and our lives… we were friends, partners in crime, and each other’s chosen family. We will daily cherish the memories and good times shared.
Finally, a quote by Goethe, shared by Duke Gavin Kilkenny that very much “fit” Wulfgang:
Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though t’were his own.
His obituary can be found online here.