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Monday, December 08, 2008

In Memoriam: Doris "Tanta" Dungey

by Calculated Risk on 12/08/2008 12:43:00 AM

From December 2006, until she passed away from ovarian cancer on Nov 30, 2008, Tanta was my co-blogger. Tanta worked as a mortgage banker for 20 years, and we started chatting in early 2005 about the housing bubble and the changes in lending practices. In 2006, Tanta was diagnosed with late stage cancer, and she took an extended medical leave while undergoing treatment. While on medical leave she wrote for this blog, and her writings received widespread attention and acclaim.

Tanta Plays Guitar 2004Click on photo for larger image in a new window.

Tanta playing guitar in 2002 (photo credit: family)

A few obituaries:

CR writes: Sad News: Tanta Passes Away

NY Times: Doris Dungey, Prescient Finance Blogger, Dies at 47

WaPo: Doris J. Dungey; Blogger Chronicled Mortgage Crisis
For some reader remembrances, emails from Tanta and more, see Remembering Tanta

Here is piece from reader sdtfs:
She will always be Tanta to me, just as Mark Twain and George Orwell are real, and not merely pseudonyms of Samuel Clemens and Eric Blair. She thought she was just another anonymous pen on the internet, but no one with her talent at writing and complete honesty could be a shallow pale ghost; she was as alive to me as my other literary heroes.
Tanta Dancing on the Dock 1997Dance, Tanta, dance! (Photo credit: family)
Funny, intelligent, and compassionate, how could you not like her? I don’t know if we could ever be friends, (she awed me so much with her knowledge and wit), but in a very real sense I adored her. I am so thankful for the writings she left behind and yet feel cheated, as we might feel cheated by only having the Great Pyramids of Egypt left behind and none of the other Seven Wonders of the World to gaze upon.

Her blog posts were carefully crafted masterpieces and worthy of attention, but her follow up answers to questions really showed her acumen. I hesitate to say it, but her real abilities showed up best in response to people who annoyed her by their persistent inability to argue the facts and clung to their prejudices or misbehaved. She could skewer a commenter who was misrepresenting himself and take him apart point by point in the blink of an eye, or issue a perfectly balanced warning to someone who was clumsily interrupting her conversation with us, her readers. Most of us have thought of the perfect thing to say an hour, or a day after the conversation is long dead, but on-line, she had immediate and total command of her wit and the conversation.

And really, if she had a blind spot, it was she had no idea of the tremendous impact she had on her readers. Any casual mention of her likes and dislikes was seared into my memory, Van Morrison? Check. Jackson Browne? Check. ABBA? Check. “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”? Check. Marianne Moore? Check. Ann Taylor Stores? Ha! For someone who engaged in as many and extended wide-ranging conversations with us all as she did, how could we not know her?

I didn’t even care about mortgages when I stumbled across her writing, and to tell you the truth, the only reason I care now was because it gave me a chance to read her writing. Some might have kidded about the length of her posts, in part because she was so thorough, but there are still a large number of us who thought them, if not too short (because she was always complete), at least over too soon. She could have written about anything and I would have read it. But she was careful to stay in the areas where she felt her expertise was needed.

I felt proud whenever I managed to catch one of her literary allusions and only wish that she could know how much we appreciated them,…Just as I wish that her friends and family could know how much she meant to us, her internet pen pals.
Tanta in Iowa 2002Tanta in Iowa 2000 (photo credit: family)

From the Boston Globe:
Calculated Risk quickly developed a cult following for its sophisticated analysis of economic data, for rapidly crunching numbers into readable graphs, and for the knowledgeable posts of Tanta, a guest blogger with razor-sharp prose and an almost limitless enthusiasm for exposing the inner workings of the mortgage industry. Tanta had worked as a mortgage banker, and the blog created an instant platform for this one thoughtful - and worried - insider. Today, her posts have become legendary as a prescient warning cry about the current financial meltdown.

Tanta Christman Eve 2002Tanta Driver License 2004
Left: Tanta on Christmas Eve, 2002. Above: Tanta's Driver License 2004 (photo credit: family)

UPDATE: Here are the details on The Doris "Tanta" Dungey Scholarship Fund

Here are 13 articles on the mortgage industry that Tanta called "The Compleat UberNerd"

Here is a Compendium of Tanta's Posts