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Robert Chapman dies.


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JFK Researcher, Restaurant owner and Artist, Robert Chapman, has passed away.

May 30, 2010

Robert Chapman

Mary Ferrell and Robert

A dear friend and fellow researcher has left us. Robert Chapman was a close friend and research partner for the late Mary Ferrell. I met them both at the ASK Symposium in 1995 and they welcomed me into the JFK assassination community. He and Mary were with me continually as JFK Lancer grew. Robert would tell wonderful stories about his time with Mary, especially how back in 1977 they were sitting a table in her home going over stacks of documents when Robert found one from CIA that was about a French assassin, Jean Soutre, who had been arrested in Dallas by the FBI and deported the same day. He slid the paper across the table to Mary saying, "You might find this interesting."

Kerry McCarthy 1997

His quick eye for details was a great talent, one he put to use in the JFK research community where he was speaker and host at the Lancer "November In Dallas" conferences. One of his proudest moments was in 1997 when he introduced Kennedy family member Kerry McCarthy to our Banquet audience saying, "We have with us tonight, as a special guest speaker, a very distinguished individual from a very distinguished family. Kerry McCarthy is the first member of the Kennedy Family to come forward to an event of this nature: to embrace our aims, our goals, our efforts and to endorse the research and the effort that we are all doing on behalf of the memory of a member of her family." Kerry thanked Robert by answering, "And if that means I have embraced the research community, what the heck has taken the Kennedy's so long to do it?"

Robert at Lancer's Memorial Banquet for Mary Ferrell

Robert oversaw new research being offered, particularly regarding document releases by the ARRB in his tenure as Editor of "Assassination Chronicles" published by JFK Lancer and shared his finds liberally. He also spent years with writers helping with their research, offering his knowledge and encouraging their writing. Robert was a crucial negotiator in the purchase of Mary Ferrell's collection by businessman Ollie Curme and oversaw the creation of millions of pages of JFK assassination documents now online as the Mary Ferrell Foundation. In 1997, Robert was awarded the JFK Lancer "New Frontier" Award, which are "In appreciation for your contribution of new evidence and furthering the study of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy."

In 1999 when Robert accepted the role of Editor for KAC, he sent me the following bio:

Robert Chapman was born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1949. His parents moved shortly thereafter to Houston, Texas where he spent his childhood and early teen years. He finished high school in Memphis, Tennessee, and then entered the University of Memphis. He graduated from the U of M in 1972, earning a BA in art history.

In 1975, he attended a researcher's conference in New York City held at NYU. There he met Penn Jones, Jr.. Penn was very kind to him and invited him to call anytime to discuss the assassination, and to come and visit in Texas should Chapman ever find himself headed to Dallas. A subsequent telephone conversation resulted in an invitation to come in November of 1975 ("You can't understand this case until you take the tour, Penn drawled). Once there Penn did indeed take him on the tour, and equally important, to a party at Mary Ferrell's house.

Mrs. Ferrell, who needs no introduction to any student of this subject, encouraged Chapman's research and offered to host him should he care to return sometime and see her archives. It was not necessary to repeat the offer. A friendship developed which led to an association that has lasted to the present day. From 1975 until 1982 Mrs. Ferrell would periodically call and announce the pending arrival of a large batch of recently de-classified documents. Usually these were documents pried from CIA or whomever under FOIA by the late Bud Fensterwald and sent directly (and often only) to Mrs. Ferrell. Chapman would drive or fly to Dallas on the agreed upon day and he and Mrs. Ferrell would spend three or four (nearly non-stop) days reading, analyzing, and indexing the documents. Sleep, when it occurred, consisted of maybe a four-hour nap.

While from time to time he did contribute essays to Penn Jones' "Continuing Inquiry," Chapman's primary focus as a researcher has been document analysis. Years of kind mentoring by Mrs. Ferrell, and exposure to her tens of thousands of pages of documents, aided immeasurably in that pursuit.

In 1982 Chapman was presented with an opportunity to enter the restaurant business by purchasing an existing business and expanding it. He has remained in the restaurant business to this day. His interest in the JFK assassination research never waned, however, and his relationship with Mrs. Ferrell and other researchers continued as well. Chapman attended all of the ASK conferences, as well as the JFK Lancer conferences working with and assisting Mrs. Ferrell. He also spoke at many of the conferences, or assisted the organizers in some official capacity.

Chapman is married to the former Jamie Goree, and they have one daughter, Amanda. He writes fiction and is an inveterate reader of not only JFK material, but of many subjects far afield from that.

Finally, I'd like to share with you what Robert wrote to his fellow researchers upon his acceptance as Editor:

Taking over a project that has been ably and intelligently run for years by someone like George Michael Evica is a daunting task. George Michael is a friend of mine, and I have long respected his work, his passion, and his abilities. I hope that I can continue this work in a manner that approaches his standard.

When Debra Conway first asked me about taking this position I was not sure how to answer. After all, I had never edited any magazine, and now was being offered the position in a magazine that is sent not only across America but also around the world. Debra and I talked about it, and I soon realized it was a project that I would enjoy. I was right.

I have recently read through the back issues of this magazine and am very impressed with the steady growth in scope and quality over the years. The hard work of Debra, George Michael, and Tom Jones has paid off. This magazine is a first rate journal of research into the single most important crime (or political event) in the history of our country. This magazine, and others like it, is concerned with the free discussion and presentation of ideas and data that advances the cause of all Americans who care about our history, our justice, and our freedom.

This magazine exists because of the failure of the national and local news media to allow independent investigative journalists to actively (much less aggressively) pursue the obvious mountain of evidence demonstrating that a conspiracy killed John F. Kennedy. This failure is a heavy burden that the media now bears, and I believe it is the primary reason for their continued promotion of nonsense published by those who would apologize for the Warren Report and its defenders. The result of this abnegation of responsibility by the media is that thousands of ordinary citizens, led by such first generation researchers as Mary Ferrell, Harold Weisberg, Penn Jones, Jr., and David Lifton (to name just a few) have taken it upon themselves to investigate this heinous crime and remarkable cover-up.

We have in this issue a great group of researchers, and future issues will see even more. From its inception this magazine has been a forum for researchers to exchange ideas and information in the hopes of one day understanding the truth about what really happened in Dallas and how it was covered up. That is truly the bottom line: how it was covered up. We may never know who really pulled the trigger on the gun that murdered John Kennedy, but there can be little doubt that we are very, very close to having proof about those responsible for the most obvious of the conspiracy - the cover-up.

Rest in peace dear friend,

Debra Conway

Service for Robert Chapman

ROBERT ANDERSON CHAPMAN, 60, owner of Molly's La Casita Restaurant since 1982, died peacefully on May 30, 2010. Robert is survived by his loving wife of 26 years, Jamie Goree Chapman, daughter Amanda Bailey Bogart (Alan), his mother Betty Wells Chapman, sisters, Susan Wilson (Clayton), Debbie Trimble (Jerry), brothers, Hal Chapman (Linda) and Charles Chapman. He was preceded in death by his father Arthur Robert Chapman and an infant sister, Rebecca. Robert was a graduate of Whitehaven High School and Memphis State University. He was also a board member emeritus of the University of Memphis Art Museum and a member of The Memphis Restaurant Association. He was a loving, kind and spiritual soul. Before his stroke, Robert was an avid golfer and a gifted artist. He will be greatly missed by his many friends and loving family. Visitation will be Tuesday, June 1 from 5-7 pm., and funeral service will be Wednesday, June 2 at 1 pm., both at Memorial Park Funeral Home. Interment will follow in Memorial Park Cemetery. Memorials may be made to The Church Health Center or the American Stroke Association .

Published in The Commercial Appeal on June 1, 2010

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."

- Matthew 5:3-9

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It is very hard for me to know exactly what to say about one of my closest friends, when I have just gotten off the phone ordering flowers for his funeral service—the service for someone I spoke to twice in the last 10 days.

I met Robert in January, 1981, when I was in Dallas on my book tour for Best Evidence. He offered to drive me around to my various media appearances, and so that’s how we met. Coincidentally, it was also the very first time that both I (and Robert) met Marina Oswald Porter, because he was present when Marina called in to some radio show on which I was appearing

For almost 30 years, the two of us --Robert and I--have palled around, for the most part on the telephone, although we would occasionally meet at a JFK Lancer event, and Robert made one trip to California, in connection with the Mary Ferrell Foundation. Robert loves--and was quite knowledgeable about--art, and we spent the day at the Getty. Until Robert suffered a terrible stroke about five years ago, we would talk several times a week. Not only was he a super valuable asset when it came to JFK research, he was also a wonderful friend.

I have dozens, if not hundreds of documents, on my computer, with his name attached—because often when we would talk, the conversation would switch from the personal to the research, and I’d make notes. Sometimes he had an idea or observation; other times he would look something up on Mary Ferrell’s special computerized data base. (I never did need to learn how to use it, because I’d just call Robert whenever I wanted to look up a fact).

Indeed, I just checked my computerized files, and they show over 1400 documents with Robert’s name tagged in the title—that’s how heavy was our day to day and week to week liaison. To maintain my own health, I take long walks on the Santa Monica beach bikepath, at night, and Robert is someone I would often call. Although I am now happily coupled, there were many years when I was not, and Robert was someone I would often call for personal advice. A single person has many quandaries, and Robert would offer cogent, and sometimes very funny, advice. So I got to calling him Father Chapman.

“Father Chapman,” I would say at the beginning of a phone call (signaling this would not be just about JFK research) “I’ve met someone, and I want to talk to you about her,” and he would then dispense his advice (with the equivalent of a wink). “Yes, my child, have no fear. . .” he would say. On a more serious note: I had hundreds of conversations with Robert about the character of Oswald and how to interpret this or that item of evidence. Or how many years--or decades--it would take before this case would really unravel, and the full truth emerge. I also was a first person witness to the major effort he played in setting up the Mary Ferrell Foundation. Robert took time off from his business in Memphis, rolled up his sleeves, traveled to Dallas, and spent countless hours boxing up Mary’s records and shipping them off to Oliver Curme (who founded the Ferrell Foundation) in Massachusetts, where Rex Bradford subsequently utilized them in connection with creating the data base that now exists.

After Robert’s stroke, we continued to communicate, and he had perfect comprehension, but he was in a wheelchair, and blind. He understood everything I said, but when he spoke, he was not easy to understand. Nonetheless, we talked regularly, and he was –as always—sharp as a tack.

I feel very bad about this. We never know how long we have, and when the sign that reads “the end” will flash before us.

I shall miss him.

DSL

Los Angeles, California

6/2/10; 2:30 AM PDT

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