In remembrance of Nate Wooley (Jonathan_Chance), 1967-2020

On November 12, 2020, we at the Straight Dope learned with sadness of the death of Nate Wooley, known on this board as Jonathan_Chance, a member since 1999 and a moderator since 2013. He was 53 years old.

Nate was a character even by Straight Dope standards. Gregarious, talkative, and opinionated, he had wide interests, one of which was throwing parties, including several in the early 2000s not billed as Dopefests but well attended by members of this board.

At the SDMB, Nate moderated the Great Debates and Politics & Elections forums, surely among the most thankless tasks on earth. A passionate political organizer for liberal causes not shy about expressing his views, he nonetheless strove mightily to ensure that all voices were heard, acknowledging in the best Straight Dope tradition that while it was never possible to make everybody happy, one might at least aspire to have them equally pissed off.

At different times of his life Nate was a journalist, a trade magazine editor, a newspaper and website publisher, and a stockbroker and financial advisor. According to his daughter Kate, who along with her sister Gwen were Nate’s chief life priority, he prided himself on helping people other financial advisors had no time for, such as moderate-income gays and black people. He was co-founder with John Breeden of, the video “game industry’s independent voice,” and for a time blogged for Motley Fool. He published a free weekly newspaper in Marietta, Georgia, where he lived for some years; one Sunday, after making fun of a local church for conducting services in a brewery during renovations, he was condemned from the pulpit by a bishop. “He always said he didn’t like drama but he sure liked creating it,” Kate says.

An aficionado of fantasy and science fiction from his youth, Nate could expound for hours on his favorite Star Trek episodes. He was a connoisseur of comics and the graphic arts, collected original signed comic panels from artists he admired, and opened a comics store six months before he died.

For 15 years Nate was co-commissioner of a simulated baseball league, explained to us by his fellow commissioner Jeremy as fantasy fantasy baseball, with not just a fantasy league but computer-generated fantasy players. Quicker than the competition in grasping the importance of the international draft (don’t ask us), in his final season he contrived to win 143 of 162 games.

Nate was polyamorous, a fact made known to us by his lover Ileen, known on the SDMB as Lucretia. She and Nate met at a Straight Dope-centric party 20 years ago, stayed friends afterward, and became lovers following his divorce. As with so much else in his life Nate became a driving force in the poly community, among other things offering financial planning seminars at poly conferences, an audience one can easily imagine having need of such advice. Ileen reports seeing a parade of weeping women by his bedside in his final days. “He was my comet,” she told us. “He lit up my sky.”

Nate died of complications arising from cancer of the tonsils, an ailment caused by human papilloma virus (HPV). The cancer, initially diagnosed in 2016, went into remission with treatment but recurred this year. After two hemorrhages, his doctors determined that further treatment would be unavailing and sent him to hospice with some generous friends, where he died two weeks later. Though unable to speak during this time, he was gratified to read the many kind thoughts expressed on this board; share a few moments with his many visitors; and learn that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had become the president- and vice president-elect. He died a happy man, in the company of his family and friends.

A party will be held in Nate’s memory when conditions permit. In the meantime, we convey his wishes that everyone get vaccinated for HPV and that, in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the DemocratIc candidates for U.S. Senate from Georgia.

We offer our condolences to all who knew and loved Nate, and express our appreciation for his many contributions to the SDMB. He is one of the reasons this community has endured for 25 years; his place will not be easily filled.

I really didn’t know Nate but that obituary makes me wish I did. I look forward to make a donations to the DemocratIc candidates for U.S. Senate from Georgia.

Ed, what a wonderful tribute to a complex, loving, and extraordinary human being.

Get that HPV vaccine, folks. If not for yourselves then for the ones who love you.

Very well done, Ed, thank you.

Thank you and man, what a year it has been.

Very well done, thanks Ed.

I have two personal memories of Nate myself: One, that he gave me my first and only SDMB warning, just a couple months ago. I chided him a bit in a PM, but held (and hold) no hard feelings, I deserved it. This was our last interaction, and I do feel bad about that. I hope he held no hard feelings for me about it. :frowning:

And two, about a decade ago, I was interested in turning an online magazine I ran into an alt weekly in my hometown. He gave me some advice and tips and life experience he had in regard to that, which was very much appreciated.

He was a good guy and will be missed. And again, thank you for sharing that Ed, it gave a deeper insight into who he was as a person off the Boards.

Me too.

That’s a nice tribute, and it informed me about who he was. I really liked him as a mod and an SDMB presence.

Thanks so much for putting this together, Ed – exceptionally well-said.

Nate and I became moderators at the same time, and suffice it to say that was one of the innumerable things he took to better than I did. I count myself as very lucky to be able to refer to him as “My friend Nate”.


Thanks for the moving write-up. I only wish I had known Nate better.

Ed, thanks for putting the tribute together. Nate was an extraordinary individual, and it’s terrible to lose him.

Nate was a presence on the board both before and after becoming a moderator. He had many ideas on how the board, and Great Debates and Politics in particular, could be improved and more satisfying places for discussion. We had many discussions in the mod loop about board policy. It was clear he always had the best interests of the board at heart.

He will be very much missed.

Beautifully written, Ed. Makes me feel that I knew him personally, which sadly I never did. I mentioned in the other thread what I considered his generosity in throwing open his house to Dopers for coming down and viewing the Great Eclipse; little did I know that this sort of thing was so intrinsic to his generous nature.

He will indeed be missed.

Thank you, Ed.

What a beautiful tribute, and what a deep and palpable loss.

My condolences to all who knew him, and to all he left behind.

“Such a long, long time to be gone
And a short time to be there.”

–Grateful Dead

This is beautiful Ed. I’m more thankful to you than I can express. I keep catching myself thinking of things I need to tell or ask him. It’s going to be a long time before I fully grok that he’s gone

Damn, I never interacted with him personally, but he was a giant presence on the board. I’ll miss that, even if I was unaware of his impact in meatspace. Thank you Nate, and thanks for the enlightening eulogy, Ed.

It sure is dusty in here.

That was beautiful, Ed; thank you.

RIP Nate; you done good.

Yes, a fine tribute Ed, thank you. I didn’t know Nate personally but this is yet another reminder that the SDMB is, at it’s best, a wonderful community. Rest in peace, Nate.

I’m so sorry to hear of Nate Wooley’s passing. I have to think that Ed’s moving and expressive eulogy will be of comfort to all who knew Nate.

Aw, crap. Seems like the only posts I make these days are when someone dies. RIP, Jonathan_Chance