AJC writer Bo Emerson spent time with Pat Conroy to discuss "The Death of Santini"
MORE: Conroy's papers go to University of South Carolina
This was an appropriate choice. The man whose Marine Corps father had so brutalized his childhood still maintained the utmost respect for the Marines. Marine Corps families, Conroy used to say, eat other families for breakfast.
Conroy wrote about his alma mater, The Citadel, in the nonfiction "The Boo," the affectionate nickname given to Assistant Commandant of Cadets Lt. Colonel Thomas N. Courvoisie. A similar character,
Col. Thomas Berrineau, known as "The Bear," showed up in the novel "Lords of Discipline."
It, too, inspired a film by the same name, starring David Keith and Robert Prosky. Like "Santini," it caused a personal rift for Conroy, as The Citadel community took issue with the jarring depiction of the school. "For 30 years he was all but barred from the campus," the New York Times noted in a piece detailing Conroy's reconciliation with his Citadel family.
After Conroy's death was announced The Citadel's official Twitter account posted messages of condolence.
Tributes are pouring in as fans, friends and family mourn the loss of the author whose muscular, vivid prose brought to life the storied streets of historic Charleston, delved into societal and cultural ills and explored complex relationship dynamics.
Harvey, Conroy's sister, said gathering in a spirit of song, verse and prose at her brother's passing was "
the most powerful day of my life."
The she added, "For those who believe in heaven, well, if there's not a place in heaven for him, then the rest of us are (blank)ed."