I was in Secondary school (not sure the American equivalent) and would be about 13. I'd picked up an interesting looking magazine from the newsagents the day before called White Dwarf ... id never seen the like before, i gazed in wonder at words like THACO and hit points without any knowledge of what they were.
A friend of mine Graham Shields asked me if i knew what it was all about. I said no and he told me. I had my first game od AD&D that weekend .... hooked ... instantly and permanently.
His work improved my command of the English language (though I was often told off for using American spelling in English lessons), kept my maths skills up to scratch and encouraged me to look beyond, to research .. first to improve my game world and then just for the pleasure of knowing.
Gary's work inspired me and many hundreds of wonderful adventures have been had with the worlds he allowed us to create. Roleplaying games have been the one constant in my life through tweo marriages and onto my third (and last), through many house moves, good times, bad times, my working life and beyond.
Through Gary Gygax I have been inspired enough to create my own works of fantasy. I set up my own games company, and work to keep roleplaying games alive, in my own small way.
Sadly I never met Gary Gygax. Maybe when I pass beyond the veil I can sit at his table and enjoy tales of adventure crafted by the master of gaming.
R.I.P. Gary, you gave us so much.