Three nights before he left us, Arnold and I spoke by phone as he rested at a facility operated by Mt. Sinai Hospital. We talked about his recent stroke, about the death of Slim Aarons, about Arnold's desire to rebound soon in order to better care for his wife, Gus. "How can I do that from here?" he said, rather anxiously.
He mentioned that he hoped to photograph George W. Bush soon. (He had wrangled portrait sessions with every U.S. president from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton.) And, as he often did, he briefly discussed plans for yet another book, this one a memoir. "I want to get out of here soon and start working," he remarked, with a tone of annoyance and urgency.
At his funeral, Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of Manhattan's Stephen Wise Free Synagogue would say to assembled relatives, friends, and colleagues:
"Arnold's Hebrew name was Avraham -- Abraham. His biblical namesake was also a pathfinder. He was the first Jew. He was the first to see the world in a different way. After Abraham the world would never again be as it was before. And God said [of Abraham]: 'See, I have singled him out; I have filled him with the spirit of God and planted within him special understanding, knowledge and skill. I have poured inspiration into his heart...'
"This was our Arnold. Take him Eternal God. 'He was a man all in all. We shall not look upon his likes again.'"