Cherished father, partner, son, brother, cousin, nephew, friend, teacher, and comrade in surrealist exuberance, Don LaCoss, 46, died unexpectedly on Jan. 31, 2011.
Born in Newport, Vt., Don grew up in Wallingford, Conn., and graduated from Sheehan High School in 1982. He graduated from Middlesex Comm. College and then Wesleyan University with a BA in History, 1992. He completed an accelerated Middlebury College French language program before studying in Paris, and took a Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan in 2001. He was a member of the UW-L History Dept. since 2001, teaching a broad range of courses, from World and European History to the Holocaust, African Civilizations, and the Middle East. Don was active in his son’s Three Rivers Waldorf School and was well recognized and loved in several other parent/child groups around town.
A passionate enemy of injustice and hypocrisy, Don was a contributing editor for the anarchist/anti-authoritarian newspaper The Fifth Estate and an active member of the Chicago Surrealist Group. His visual art has been exhibited around the world, from La Crosse and St. Louis, to New York City, Boston, Vancouver, and London. His writings on surrealism and anarchism have been published widely, and he was working on a book titled The Imp of the Perverse: Surrealism in Egypt, 1937-1947. Don approached his work with a sense of the revolutionary possibilities afforded through art, education and humor. A friend writes, “Like the ‘honesty’ of Guy Fawkes, who was executed on Jan. 31, 1606 for his part in the Gunpowder Plot on the British parliament, the incendiary black humor of Don, who died on the same day 205 years later, was, in the words of André Breton, like ‘a spark in search of a powder keg’.”
Don’s greatest passion was his son Benjamin, now six, the only person who could match Don’s marvelous sense of imagination and of future possibilities.
He is also survived by his partner Susan Crutchfield of La Crosse; mother, Sandy (Paul) Inserra of Wallingford, Conn.; father, Wendell LaCoss of Wallingford; brother, David (Jennifer) LaCoss and their children, Chloe and Bryce; and by numerous cousins and doting friends and colleagues.
A public memorial celebration will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at Myrick/Hixon EcoCenter, Sunday, Feb. 13. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to “CollegeAmerica FBO Benjamin LaCoss Crutchfield,” 323 23rd St. S., La Crosse, Wis., 54601. Coulee Region Cremation Group is assisting the family.