Today marks the tenth year anniversary of Charles Schulz’ passing. I almost let it slip by; it was only when last night’s episode of The Office made direct mention of the great man himself (and is there a worse example of character assassination than having Erin be ignorant of Snoopy?) that I remembered.

Of all the celebrity deaths I’ve lived through, his was the only one that brought me to tears. And no, not just a moment to myself to mourn a man that felt like a wise uncle to me, despite my never having met him. I mean I was a mess that entire Sunday. I obsessively taped TV news tributes. I reread strip collections. I marveled at the poetry of his life and death.

Peanuts was the greatest work of American art in the 20th century. For fifty years–a full one-half of that century–Charles Schulz crafted a universe of children who possessed preternatural perception and mother wit, as well as the classic pettiness and vindictiveness. His female characters–Charlotte Braun aside–were so well-defined, so completely their own persons, that they are still not fully understood.

The world is immeasurably richer for having him in it, for a time.

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