A Wichita crime novelist has died after complications from the flu.
Gaylord Lynn Dold was found Monday morning in his mother’s Fort Scott home.
Mr. Dold, a Wichita attorney who gave up practicing law to write novels and travel guides, was 70.
No services are planned.
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He was born Gaylord Lynn Dold on May 19, 1947, in Lawrence and spent his preschool years in Wichita before moving with his parents to southern California. His family moved back to Wichita in the late 1960s. He graduated from East High School in 1965.
He received his bachelor’s degree in German from the University of Kansas in 1969, his master’s in philosophy from KU in 1971, his law degree in 1973 from the UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, and a degree in international law from the London School of Economics.
Mr. Dold founded Watermark Press. He was author of the Mitch Roberts mysteries, published by Watermark Press in a single volume as “The Wichita Mysteries.”
He also wrote countless book reviews for The Wichita Eagle over 35 years.
“He was truly a man of letters,” said Sarah Bagby, owner of Watermark Books and Cafe. “He wrote these amazing and erudite book reviews for The Eagle that resonated with people. We’d hear people talking about them. He wrote about Wichita. He did that series of mysteries but he also wrote bigger literary stories that were global.
“His writing was funny but it was also really deep and could be as painful as it was funny.”
At Watermark Press “he published ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ (by John O’Brien) of which we still get royalties for the paperback,” Bagby said. “He was as big of reader as he was a writer and I am just really saddened. He was one of our first employees of the Watemark Books Downtown and he put his thumbprint all over our store and literary community.”
His books were praised by the New York Times Book Review, Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist.
“Gaylord was just a real decent guy,” said Thomas Fox Averill, professor emeritus in English at Washburn University in Topeka, who maintains the Map of Kansas Literature website. “He defined the word gentleman. He was the editor for me at Watermark and, of course, I read a lot of his Kansas-based ‘Mitch Roberts’ series. I just loved his style. All his characters were as interesting as he was. All of them had depth and interesting back stories. I felt he captured small towns and Kansas really well.”
The back story on Mr. Dold is that in his spare time, he liked to fly fish and garden, play piano and guitar. On his website, he wrote that he “rides horses poorly and loves dogs.”
Mr. Dold was always writing, even when he wasn’t writing books. He was a old-fashioned letter writer and friends would keep and treasure his letters.
Jeff Worley, a retired professor from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, has been a friend since childhood. They often wrote each other letters — single-spaced, typewritten letters. So many, in fact, Worley said, that the box containing every letter Mr. Dold wrote him now weighs 35 pounds.
A network of Mr. Dolds’ friends began calling each other early this week with news of his death.
Worley called Fort Scott police to learn more.
Mr. Dold was in Fort Scott to be near his aging mother, Helen Niemeir, his only survivor. He had caught the flu and had sought medical attention at an emergency room, Worley said.
“I think it is important to say this, that some people who die these ridiculously unpredictable deaths are people who don’t take care of themselves,” Worley said. “That wasn’t him. He was the most fit 70-year-old I know. He did yoga, he did weights and a lot of activities. He always kept himself in good shape. One of the shocks of this is that he was just in tremendous shape.”