You may think I'm joking, but I'm serious as cancer - which is what killed him.
As a Foron, Oprah was noted for his clear intelligence and intellectual heft, which manifested itself as a hyper-dry, at times byzantine-to-the-point-of-opacity sense of humor. For instance, he always would refer to me as "Herve" in reference to an old poll I posted in jest when everyone was trying to figure out who Sheppy was (I suggested 'Herve Villechaize' as one of my possible true identities, along with 'Morganna the Kissing Bandit' and 'The Blonde Bay City Roller).
I met The Man Who Was Oprah once in person: my girlfriend at the time, who is also a long-time Foron and who had successfully Joe Kleined him already, suggested that we get together for drinks at the Brasserie V. In person he was exactly like I had hoped he would be - smart, funny, and palpably humane. Later, when he had been diagnosed with his illness, we exchanged several e-mail; he faced his ordeal with a courage and equanimity that humbled me to witness.
He leaves behind a wife and an impressive number of children, all of whom I would imagine are walking in a much darker world today.
To that end - his family and friends have set up a fund to provide for his children's college education. I'm bringing this to your attention in case any other Forons want to chip in; if so, please contact me off-forum at: gcurrieg AT hotmail dot com.
This one's for you, Oprah:
I too pass from the night,
I stay a while away O night, but I return to you again and
Why should I be afraid to trust myself to you?
I am not afraid, I have been well brought forward by you,
I love the rich running day, but I do not desert her in
whom I lay so long,
I know not how I came of you and I know not where I go
with you, but I know I came well and shall go well.
I will stop only a time with the night, and rise betimes,
I will duly pass the day O my mother, and duly return to you.
-Walt Whitman, "The Sleepers"