Our long-time helpers — Part 3 of  5: — gone but not forgotten

Photo by Art Blumberg
Rolinda Collinson has been around games, puzzles and brainteasers most of her life, and hung around for years at antique and craft shows and lately Renaissance Festivals. When Kadon's booth at the Maryland Renaissance Festival needed a dynamic performer to demonstrate the Royal Game of the Goose, Rolinda offered to take it on, beginning with the 2008 season. She shone in the role of Goose Mistress, entertaining young and old in playing this genuine Renaissance parlor game and even beguiling the King and his royal court, since 2009, to come in annually for highly theatrical game play. The game table sits in front of the Gamery under a big green umbrella, inviting visitors to merriment, unless it's raining, when it moves indoors.

A native of Maryland, Rolinda recalls that her family played all the time with the brainteasers her father still had from his own childhood, and every Christmas they would search for new ones to buy to challenge each other, like "Drive Ya Nuts", "It's Knot Easy", the red cube "Soma", and many others through the years.

Rolinda calls herself a "very artsy person". Fiber-art, especially quilting, is her passion, which originally drew her into "Ye Olde Gamery" in 2004, with all its geometric wonders. Design, color and layout in quilting is so much like the puzzles, seeking symmetry or not, and very intriguing.

Her four children are all gamers, too. The three youngest are the most avid, having attended the World Boardgaming Championships (WBC) since 2001. Her son Daniel made frequent appearances at Ye Olde Gamery as a rakish pirate and even helped out with occasional errands.

Rolinda is a member of the Boardgame Players Association (BPA) and the Games Club of Maryland (GCOM), and often played Scrabble at Barnes & Noble on Wednesday nights. In 2002 she won a championship at the WBC.

In real life Rolinda is an elementary special-education teacher. Her patience and her delight in seeing children learn are great assets and made her adept at teaching games, too. Her radiant smile and joyful appearance (note the garland in her hair) have certainly lighted up Ye Olde Gamery, and we were looking forward to a long and happy association—except that she fell in love and left us for North Carolina in 2014. We will always miss her and wish her all happiness.

Meshele Merchant
got involved with Kadon and gamepuzzles through her relationship with Eric Bare and was hooked after one visit to Ye Olde Gamery at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. A natural entertainer, singer, fortune-teller (tarot), artist and artisan, and a fine cook, she brought all these skills and interests to her activities at Kadon.

She was also Kate's most frequent helper at shows in Florida for a number of years.

Puzzles were new to her, and she learned to explain them to visitors at shows and to come up with new design ideas of her own. You can see examples in her alphabet patterns for Triangoes Jr. and some other puzzles shown in this website.

Meshele has an exotic history. She was born somewhere in Asia, a place that may no longer exist as a separate country. Her family came to the U.S. as refugees when Meshele was only 4 months old, with one older brother. After that her parents produced 13 more siblings that she helped take care of. She has lived variously in California, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Texas. From about 2009 until 2017 she resided in Florida with Eric.

When Eric became terminally ill in July 2017, Meshele and Eric decided to make their eight-years-long love and life together official by getting married on July 16, 2017, in Pasadena, MD, in Dick and Kate's home, where she devotedly cared for Eric until he passed away on October 4, 2017. Thereafter Meshele decided to move on with her life independent of Kadon and Eric's family. We wish the young widow well wherever life may carry her.

In memoriam
Eric Bare (1963-2017),
was the son of Kate Jones. A late-comer to the gamepuzzles scene, he took to it with unbounded enthusiasm for the last ten years of his life. He and his girlfriend, Meshele Merchant, even moved to Florida into Kate's extra apartment, to help with winter shows.

Eric had been in the music business most of his life, and for over two decades was the stage manager for The Commodores, a career that took him to their concerts from China to Africa and anywhere in between.

He and Kate Jones found each other again in 1994 after a 25-year separation. His expertise in setting up shows and being an all-around roadie came in handy in helping Kate to redesign her new booth and to assist at her exhibits in art shows when he was not on the road at Commodore gigs. His natural showmanship, his quick grasp of the puzzle concepts and skill at explaining them made him a great asset with visitors to the booth.

Between music gigs, Eric got more deeply involved in the gamepuzzles adventure, helping not only at shows and at the Maryland Renaissance Festival but also in the laser shop, the wood shop, remodeling the basement warehouse, and developing video clips about the various puzzles (a project still under construction and awaiting a new producer). For relaxation Eric would play his guitar and write songs and poems. He was even inspired to create abstract art and design gameboards. It was understood that when the Commodores retired, Eric would build a new career with Kadon and carry on the family business. ... It was not to be.

In early 2017, Eric started to have symptoms of blacking out and dizziness, but with his habit of hard work he kept up with the travels and concert management until he finally collapsed on stage in Seattle on July 2. Rushed to the hospital, Eric was diagnosed after an MRI with a large, virulent brain tumor, a glioblastoma so advanced that nothing could be done, just to keep him comfortable, to assure a "quality of life" for as long as possible, and no desperate measures. He and Meshele were married on July 16, 2017, in Dick and Kate's Maryland home, where he remained until he passed away peacefully in his sleep on October 4, 2017.

Eric lives on in our hearts and memories. Here is an all-too-brief photo album.

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