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In Memoriam

Duke Sir Obadiah the Obstreperous, OL, OP


Per pale argent and azure,
a sword between in fess two
boar's heads couped close
addorsed counterchanged.

King Obadiah, 12th Night, Jan 5, 2013
Photo by Ghislaine d'Auxerre

Brian Shellnut had cancer in several organs, and was on chemo-therapy for some time. He fought a brave fight, taking the strongest chemo that was allowed. He had surgery to remove the last of the cancer and part of one of his organs. Apparently there were complications or issues during recovery from the surgery. He passed quietly October 13 or 14 (that night), 2017. He is survived by his son Cameron Shellnut.

Obadiah (known by many as simply Ob) was a Duke, a Count, a Viscount of Cynagua, a Knight, Laurel, and Pelican, a member of the Orders of the Leaf of Merit and the Rose Leaf, held the Cynaguan Ruxton, the Queen's Order of Grace, and many other recognitions over the years. Ob was one of the founders of The Argent Angels (a war unit in the SCA). He was loved by many as a bit of a rebellious personality, but more knew and loved him for his joy and love of life and people.



Some Reminisces:

As the Kingdom Historian, I guess I get the first entry, although it is hard to find the words. I don't recall the first time I actually met Ob, but he was always one of those people whose personality was larger than could be contained by any single individual, yet he managed. He loved life, he loved people, he loved jokes. He was extremely informal in pretty much everything that he did. Underneath the often crude personality that was the first thing most people saw when they met him was a very intelligent, compassionate, sweet and kind man. Over the years as he mellowed we saw more of that person, but the other guy was always there just waiting to throw a practical joke out or find a great reason to laugh.

When he was King, he took the job seriously, but still managed to keep his humor and have a lot of fun. He would give someone the shirt off his back if they needed it, he was always doing things, he was an artist with an amazing eye and talent (hence membership in the Order of the Laurel), if something needed doing, he would drop the games and go do it (hence membership in the Order of the Pelican). He touched a lot of peoples' lives in a lot of ways, and I expect this page will fill soon with many other rememberances. I find it hard to say a lot, but I always liked Ob ... he was hard not to like.

The last time many of us saw Ob in person was at a pirate party held at the home of Joe MacCarthy (Sir Adalberon Blackwood) and his lady Leisa Henry (Mistress Eireannach Katleen Nic Ghiolla Chainnigh). He brought his ukelele and played a little. He was happy, despite whatever pain he may have had, because he was done with the chemo therapy, and was scheduled for surgery a couple of weeks (or so, I can't remember the actual date now) and was looking forward to being completely cancer-free. This was the guy most of us know and always loved to see, upbeat, enjoying life ... Sadly a few days after the surgery he posted on Facebook how much pain he was in. That's the last posting I remember seeing from him. We got word on Sunday the 14th that he had passed in the night, many of us at the October Crown tournament. It put a bit of a pall over the morning, but we came through it. I believe Ob would have wanted us to celebrate his life, not mourn his passing. That night at dinner several of us sang, with gusto and gestures, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot", just as Ob would have done. Sigh. -- Hirsch von Henford, OL, OP


I've known Ob for some 32 years or more. Pretty much as soon as he started playing at the Kingdom level. He's always been a presence and a character.

I remember many years ago when he was the holder of the Muckin' Great Clubbe. He was wandering around with it and it looked like he could actually use it in battle. It fit him.

Another was facing him in a bridge battle at a Mists / Cynagua war. I charged the line to break it. (I really didn't have much expectation of that as Ob was in the front waiting for it.) Now, in armor, I weigh over 300 pounds. Ob squats down and leaps upward on impact. He absolutely launches me into the air. I have never had anyone take me completely off my feet like that. I landed flat on my back and it took me a minute or so to get my breath back.

Last one that comes quickly to mind was back in 2008 or 09 when the Crapaud Tournament was still being held at the ranch in Vacaville. One of the frequent participants was a lady named Kristen who we could barely hear during the invocation. We started calling her Kristen the Quiet. Well, we're doing pick up fights after the tourney one night and Ob and Kristen are sparring off at the far end of the arena. None of us knew what he said, but all of a sudden we hear Kristen at full volume laughingly shout "Fuck you, Ob". Everyone in the arena sort of stopped and stared in astonishment. -- Vlasta von der Weissen Sonne


Just a couple photos of Ob at the 20th Crapaud. One is a photo of all the fighters that were there that weekend and crossed swords with him, and the other is him at the barrier. Such a fierce fighter, but full of joy too. He will be missed. -- Anne FitzRichard

(Ob is in his "Cherry Pie" armor ...)


Memento memori: Obadiah the Obstreperous (Brian Shellnut). I painted a jewelry box with this as the main image as a commissioned gift from King Obadiah to his Queen, Ascelin, during their reign. Painted in the Russian Laquer style, portrait of Ob as King; protectively clocked by Ascelin's Ravens (arms and colors), Great Sword in hand, white (representing the Argent Angels) steed behind, standing strong over ever threatening death (dragon skull) at his feet. Ob ~ my friend. -- Atabeg Tusya Tatiana Suddosseva


Two videos on YouTube of Obadiah (and friends) singing a couple of his favorites. Warning: these may be crude, if you have a sensitive nature, you don't want to watch them. These were shot at the 200th Crapaud Tournament (an unofficial SCA tourney, but one that has a lot of respect in fighter community) by Esmeralda of the Lakes.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Don't know the title of this one(?)
(The links will open a new browser window ...)


I joined the SCA when I was an annoying little teenager, and hung out with a bunch of other annoying little teenagers who were all confused about whether we could be elves and spent most of our time dancing around barefoot singing show tunes. And few of the grownups in our barony wanted to bother with us.

But there was this one dude, a big burly obnoxious rugby-playing college senior who was always full of jokes and knew all these funny songs (yes, those ones) and he took the time and trouble to show us things, tell us stories, and kind of help coax us into taking the SCA seriously.

And I'll never forget, one afternoon when my best friend Rain (Hannah) Kleindolph and I were running around in Henderson Center in Eureka, and we spotted him. He was clearly working, because he was getting out of a work truck, but the two of us saw him and ran up to him squealing "Ob! Ob!" and hugged him.

And he stopped what he was doing, in the middle of a busy work day, and treated two silly teenagers to ice cream cones at the Fresh Freeze, just because.

And that was Sir Obadiah, to me. And I will miss him more than words can say. -- Mistress Caitlin O’Byrne


A lot of people will say "Obadiah's passing has left a great void in the West Kingdom." I won't be one of them, because he was too big for that.

When you figure in the number of the squires, he's taken, the fighters he's trained, the tourneys he'd conducted, and the stories that have grown up about him, you would agree that Obadiah won't go away soon, or willingly.

He was one of those people that you could never take at surface value.

If he thought you were a bit too complacent for his liking, he would go out of his way to rattle your cage. On the other hand, if you were uneasy to begin with, he would do his best to put you at ease. If he insulted you, that meant he liked you. If he was gravely courteous and formal, you began to wonder what you might have done to offend him.

I didn't know him well as a person, and my first encounter with him was not auspicious. I was either the autocrat or the constable in charge (I can't remember which) at one of the June Crowns we held at San Lorenzo Park in King City. At around midnight, I was notified that there was a rather raucous party, and was asked to get them to tone it down. Sir Obadiah turned out to be the loudest of the bunch, so I asked him in kindly terms if he could take it down a notch, as a courtesy to his fellow campers. He asked me in kindly terms to ... well, to perform a physical impossibility. But I have to add that the next morning, he came up to me and said, "You know what I said last night? It was out of line, and I'm sorry." That was Ob in a nutshell: quick to offend, and quick to apologize for the offense.

I served under him twice, Chancellor of the Exchequer at both the Kingdom and Principality level. In the first tenure, he asked me if it was possible for the Kingdom to pay his way to the Pennsic War. At the time, the travel fund only permitted intra-Kingdom travel, which in itself was considerable since both Lochac and Oertha were Principalities. (I don't know what the policy is now.) So I had to tell him "No." I added that since I knew him to be a man of honor, I would be happy to loan him a couple of thousand dollars out of my own pocket and trust him to pay it back when he could. He declined the offer, and I wondered if he still felt that I bore him some ill will, or if he bore me some ill will, from that episode at June Crown. I later decided that he was not the kind of person to hold that sort of grudge; he certainly never mentioned it again.

Obadiah was many things to many people:
"Sir/Master/Viscount/King/Count/Duke/Prince Obadiah the Obstreperous," "Coach Shellnut," "The Evil Obster" and who knows what else. That's appropriate, I think. He was too big to be just one person. I will always regret that that I'll never get the chance to meet any of the rest of them, and will always envy those who did. -- Freiherr Johann von Drachenfels


Obadiah's Knighting -- Surprise!
(April 29, 1989, A.S. XXIII)
Photo by Garth of Windhaven

“… my first encounter with him was not auspicious.” Oh, that takes me back… My first encounter with Ob was when Sir Garth and I were newly-minted Lord and Lady of the Swan. Ob was strolling along the eric of an evening with his buddy Beerslayer (aka Karl the Meek and Mild), and Garth called them over. The pair of them rushed up, shouted “Group hug!” and suddenly I found myself squashed up between two great big hairy sweaty man-bears. After being set back down on my feet, they were duly introduced to me, both kissed my hand, and then they vanished into the night. Garth turned to me and said, “I wanted you to meet Obadiah. I’d like to have him on our Court.” I must confess that I sort of bleated out in pained bafflement, “Why?” and Garth quietly replied, “Ob is a really nice guy and he’s a really good fighter. He’s going to be Prince or King some day, so he should serve on a Court to know what it’s like being royalty and how it’s done.” Thus Obadiah became a member of our Court, whereupon he took great pride in showing up with a huge furry thing perched atop his head (at the time I had wondered if he even owned a tunic, as I’d only ever seen him in sandals, a pair of baggy striped pants and a ratty fake fur cloak) to proudly announce, “I made it myself, it’s RUSSIAN! Just for YOU, Your Highness!” With that, our friendship began.

I grew to know Ob as a witty, bawdy, funny guy and enjoyed many an evening sitting about a fire, singing and carrying on. I confess that I was subjected quite early on to being stood up atop the Ice Chest Of Infamy so that Ob could take a knee and serenade me, starting by taking my booted foot in hand and singing passionately, “I put my hand upon her toe, yo ho, yo ho!” I didn’t know where that was leading but feared it wasn’t good (nor was it), and was happy to beat a quick retreat after enduring about six or seven stanzas, each more filthy than the last. Yes, he loved a good loud song, although on one memorable occasion (and not the one Johann recounted above), the lot of us got just a little too noisy and rambunctious, and had the temerity to disturb a more serious bardic gathering a couple of camps over. Some indignant soul stomped up and barked something like, “You’re all too noisy, you’re so RUDE, just shut up!” We all apologized (quite sincerely, we hadn’t realized we’d gotten so loud) and said we’d keep it down, but the Annoyed Complainer wasn’t willing to let it go. “Who ARE you? I’m going to tell the King about you guys!” Without so much as a blink, Ob drew himself up and intoned solemnly, “Why, I am Paul of Bellatrix.” Beerslayer chimed in with, “My name is William the Lucky.” Garth held up his hand like a kid in school and said, “Michael Hugh Stuart.” Oh, well – in for a penny, in for a pound – so I said, “And I’m Hilary of Serendip.” We never did hear back from the King. Sometimes Ob’s sense of humor was somewhat …. skewed. As in, if he hadn’t made you laugh, you probably would have killed him.

One memorable occasion was during the 20-Year-Celebration Beltane campout. A mutual friend had won a raffle for a sit-down feast for twelve, courtesy of Mistress Berengaria and Mistress Grun (later Duchess Juana). A lovely long pavilion was set up at right angles to one of the roads, open at both ends. The cooks were busy bustling about the kitchen at one end, and while we were sitting there enjoying various beverages, Ob bethought him a toast. As was his habit at that time, he hoisted his tankard and declared, “To Titus’ scrotum!” Okay, we all drank. There followed several other toasts to several other males’ nether regions, until by happenstance, Count Michael Hugh Stuart came riding past on his horse Milo, whereupon Ob immediately (and loudly) declared, “To Milo’s scrotum!” I think several of us thought Ob had gone just a little too far, and sure enough, not one minute later, Michael Hugh rode up to the end of the pavilion and reined in his horse. (Uh-oh, I thought, now he’s going to get it!) Drawing himself up somewhat imperiously, Michael Hugh grimly spoke the following: “Milo is a GELDING.” Irrepressible, Ob gamely responded, “To Milo’s scrotum, wherever it may be!” To which Garth chimed in, “Long may it wave!” I held my breath. Michael Hugh pursed his lips, not quite cracking a smile, and rode away. Ob lived. Just in time for the first course, which featured a turnip dish that suffered an unfortunate accident and got somewhat burnt. The burned portion had been discarded but the burnt smoked flavor had contaminated the turnips. Now it so happened that I’d taken a fair-sized portion of it and was sitting there wondering what to do with it. Obadiah, sitting directly across the table from me, chose at that moment to declare loudly, “Oh, dear, I took ENTIRELY too much – here, have some!” He had scraped up the serving on his own plate and without further ado, leaned over and slapped it down onto mine. I wanted to throttle him, but couldn’t help but laugh, as did everyone sitting around our end of the table. Just then Mistress Grun came up with another dish and chirped brightly, “What’s so funny?” and Obadiah just leaned back and grinned. He almost didn’t live that time…

He was an extremely creative man, although at first I didn’t guess it. It began to dawn on me when I first saw his camp at that event, tucked away in a back corner. After making inquiries, I finally found my way back there to see a magnificent large white pavilion, open to the sunny morning. The interior was spotless, with hand-made tables and chairs and a neatly made bed, with a lovely wood-metal-and glass chandelier pendant above, and I learned later that the pavilion and everything in it were Ob’s handiwork. Wow. Gee, I sorta thought that Ob would be living in a pop-up tent, or a troll’s den, or something… Around back, there was the man himself, and I apologized for interrupting his breakfast. “Nah, that’s okay, I’ve already eaten,” he said. When I asked what he was doing, he said cheerily, “Makin’ pancakes, for anybody who wants some. You want some?” Wow again…. Both talented, AND generous, and my impression of Obadiah the Obstreperous changed yet again.

Two years later, Garth got him back for the turnips on the day of Obadiah’s knighting. It was the second day of the event and the peerage meetings were in full swing. The Chivalry and Laurels had already met, and the Pelicans were gathered. Not far away, on merchants’ row, Sir Robert Kinslayer had his usual booth, selling his masterful armor. Ob, apparently bored, decided to set up a little competition and proceeded to plunk himself down opposite Robbie and hawked his own “superior” weapons – rocks and sticks. “Fire-hardened sticks!” Ob cajoled all and sundry. “It’s cutting edge technology! Be the first to have one!” Per usual, he got louder and louder, until the Queen sent Duke Frederick of Holland over, who promptly squelched him. Much subdued, Obadiah wandered over to our camp. “Hey Ob, what’s up?” Garth asked, even though we’d pretty much witnessed the entire scene from afar. “Ah, man, I just messed up again,” Obadiah said, rather hang-dog, all but scuffing a toe in the dirt. “Man, I don’t know why I keep doing stuff like that, it was really dumb! I am NEVER gonna get a white belt.”

Now, unbeknownst to Ob, his name had come up in Chivalry council not one hour earlier and the consensus was that the Crown would offer him the accolade that very day; however Ob’s knight, Sir Elriin of Hrassvelg, said that it should be a “surprise” ceremony, and plotted out just how to go about it with the King. So now Garth, in what seemed like a strange and rather cruel turn for him (or so I thought at the time), said coldly, “Yeah, what were you thinking? You’re right. Face it, Ob – you f*cked up.” Ob just looked even more dejected and plodded away. The Pelican council broke up and the call came to assemble for Court. After sundry this-and-that, King Geoffrey had the herald call one Lord Obadiah the Obstreperous into court. Geffrey stood up, hands on hips, as Ob approached, and growled, “Obadiah, KNEEL!” Ob did so, an abashed and tentative grin on his face, and commented, “Oh, man, I guess I’m in trouble now.” “That’s right, you ARE in trouble!” Geoffrey said, or words to that effect, and launched into a bit of a diatribe about how word of Ob’s behavior had come to the attention of the Crown, and everybody knew what he’d done, and all the things he HAD been doing – and while this tongue-lashing was going on, Sir Elriin walked up behind Ob ever so quietly, with the rest of the Chivalry gathering back behind him, just out of Ob’s line of sight. King Geoffrey finally wound down and said grimly, “I just don’t know what to do with you. Who’s your Knight?” Elriin said, “I am!” Ob looked around, saw him and the assembled Chivalry, and as it slowly started to register on him, Geoffrey asked, “What does my Chivalry have to say?” to which Elriin replied, “Your Majesty, our numbers are not complete.” I think right up until then Ob thought he was REALLY in for it, but at those words he just threw back his head and laughed in delight at being so Royally Had, as did the gathered Chivalry and the rest of the crowd. Like everything else we did with Obadiah, it was great fun.

He was an easy traveling companion, too, as we found when he came along with us in March for a visit to Yosemite National Park, which he had never seen. But that’s a story for another time… -- Tatiana Nikolaevna Tumanova


Note, if you would like to add a memory of Ob, please click this link: 'In Memoriam' Entry


Photos:
People
Purgatorio Coronation (August 24-25, 1985, AS XX)
Cynagua Summer Investiture (July 9, 1988, AS XXIII)
Twelfth Night Coronation (January 7, 1989, AS XXIII)
Arts and Sciences Tournament (July 27-29, 1990, AS XXV)
Purgatorio Coronation (August 25-26, 1990, AS XXV)
Purgatorio Coronation (August 25-26, 1990, AS XXV)
Ducal Prize Tournament (August 31-September 3, 1990, AS XXV)
October Crown Tournament (October 6-7, 1990, AS XXV)
Twelfth Night Coronation (January 5, 1991, AS XXV)
Twelfth Night Coronation (January 5, 1991, AS XXV) (Photo Album)
Cynagua Winter Investiture (January 26, 1991, AS XXV)
Southern Cynagua Friendship Tourney -- Canale (July 20-21, 1991, AS XXVI)
Southern Cynagua Friendship Tourney -- Canale (July 20-21, 1991, AS XXVI)
Ducal Prize Tournament (September 5-6, 1992, AS XXVII)
Beltane Coronation (May 1-2, 1993, AS XXVIII)
Beltane Coronation (May 1-2, 1993, AS XXVIII)
Mists Spring Investiture (May 8, 1993, AS XXVIII)
Black Knight Tourney -- Canale (September 11-12, 1993, AS XXVIII)
Cynagua War Practice (Summer, 1994, AS XXIX)
Black Knight V -- Canale (July 9, 1994, AS XXIX)
Cynagua Summer Investiture (July 16-17, 1994, AS XXIX)
October Crown Tournament (October 1-2, 1994, AS XXIX)
Beltane Coronation (April 29, 1995, AS XXIX)
Beltane Coronation (April 29, 1995, AS XXIX)
Beltane Coronation (April 29, 1995, AS XXIX)
Beltane Coronation (April 29, 1995, AS XXIX)
Beltane Coronation (April 29, 1995, AS XXIX)
June Crown Tournament (June 17-18, 1995, AS XXX)
June Crown Tournament (June 17-18, 1995, AS XXX)
Cynagua Investiture (July 15-16, 1995, AS XXX)
Purgatorio Coronation (August 19-20, 1995, AS XXX)
Purgatorio Coronation (August 19-20, 1995, AS XXX)
Purgatorio Coronation (August 19-20, 1995, AS XXX)
Purgatorio Coronation (August 19-20, 1995, AS XXX)
Purgatorio Coronation (August 19-20, 1995, AS XXX)
Purgatorio Coronation (August 19-20, 1995, AS XXX)
Purgatorio Coronation (August 19-20, 1995, AS XXX)
Twelfth Night Coronation (January 3, 1998, AS XXXII)
Twelfth Night Coronation (January 3, 1998, AS XXXII)
Cynagua Investiture (July 16-18, 1999, AS XXXIV)
Cynagua Investiture (July 16-18, 1999, AS XXXIV)
Purgatorio Coronation (August 27-29, 1999, AS XXXIV)
Purgatorio Coronation (August 27-29, 1999, AS XXXIV)
Purgatorio Coronation (August 27-29, 1999, AS XXXIV)
Purgatorio Coronation (August 27-29, 1999, AS XXXIV)
October Crown Tournament (October 1-3, 1999, AS XXXIV)
October Crown Tournament (October 1-3, 1999, AS XXXIV)
Cynagua Investiture (January 29, 2000, AS XXXIV)
Cynagua Investiture (January 29, 2000, AS XXXIV)
Twelfth Night Coronation (January 6, 2001, AS XXXV)
Cynagua Spring Coronet (May 25-28, 2001, AS XXXVI)
June Crown Tournament (June 22-24, 2001, AS XXXVI)
October Crown Tournament (October 4-6, 2002, AS XXXVII)
Beltane Coronation (May 2-4, 2003, AS XXXVIII)
Beltane Coronation (May 2-4, 2003, AS XXXVIII)
June Crown Tournament (June 20-22, 2003, AS XXXVIII)
June Crown Tournament (June 20-22, 2003, AS XXXVIII)
June Crown Tournament (June 20-22, 2003, AS XXXVIII)
Purgatorio Coronation (August 22-24, 2003, AS XXXVIII)
October Crown Tournament (October 3-5, 2003, AS XXXVIII)
October Crown Tournament (October 3-5, 2003, AS XXXVIII)
Great Western War -- Kingdom of Caid (October 7-13, 2003, AS XXXVIII)
Cynagua Investiture (January 24, 2004, AS XXXVIII)
October Crown Tournament (October 15-17, 2004, AS XXXIX)
Estrella War -- Kingdom of Atenveldt (February 16-21, 2005, AS XXXIX)
Estrella War -- Kingdom of Atenveldt (February 16-21, 2005, AS XXXIX)
March Crown Tournament (March 25-27, 2005, AS XXXIX)
March Crown Tournament (March 25-27, 2005, AS XXXIX)
March Crown Tournament (March 25-27, 2005, AS XXXIX)
Mists/Cynagua War (April 15-17, 2005, AS XXXIX)
Cynagua Investiture (July 8-10, 2005, AS XL)
Cynagua Investiture (July 8-10, 2005, AS XL)
Cynagua Investiture (July 8-10, 2005, AS XL)
Cynagua Investiture (July 8-10, 2005, AS XL)
Cynagua Investiture (July 8-10, 2005, AS XL)
Cynagua Investiture (July 8-10, 2005, AS XL)
Coronet/Investiture (Oertha) (January 19-20, 2013, AS XLVII) (Photo Album)
Coronet Tournament -- Principality of the Mists (April 5-7, 2013, AS XLVII) (Photo Album)


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The West Kingdom History Website was created by and is maintained by Hirsch von Henford (mka Ken Mayer).