Ron Offen, 1930-2010


The Special Collections Research Center is saddened by the loss of Ron Offen, poet and editor of the poetry magazine Free Lunch, who passed away on Monday, August 9, 2010.

Ron Offen was born to Charles, a sales engineer, and Ellen Offen on October 12, 1930 in Chicago, IL. In 1950 he married Sharon Nealy; from 1966-2000 he was married to Rosine Breuckner (aka Kristine Cameron). In 2003, he married Beverly K. Drick.

Offen received an AA degree from Wright Junior College in 1950 and a MA degree from the University of Chicago in 1967. He worked in the insurance industry from 1953-1967. Offen then pursued a literary career as a poet, writer, and editor.

Offen served as editor for Chicagoland (1967-1969) and Automotive Fleet (1969-1971). In 1994, he edited The Starving Poets’ Cookbook, Free Lunch Arts Alliance. He was the author of several biographies and books of poetry, including Dillinger: Dead or Alive? (with Jay Robert Nash, 1970), Brando (1973), Instead of Gifts: Poems for Poets (1995), Answer Questions (1996), and God’s Haircut, and other Remembered Dreams (1999). God's Haircut was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

In 1989, after a bout with cancer, Offen founded the poetry journal Free Lunch: A Poetry Miscellany. He stated, “I thought about how important poetry had been to me my whole life and how much it had given to me. So, I thought, I want to give something back to poetry and poets.”

The Chicago Sun Times obituary appeared on August 11.

The papers of Ron Offen are located at the Special Collections Research Center and are open for research.

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