I was in one of the early waves of discovery of the game, back in September 1975. I overheard someone talking about the rules set with the owner of a shop across the street from UCLA where I purchased SPI's games, and I was intrigued. Before I knew it, I was going twice a week to play, and continued to do so from my junior year in college until what some would say is my dotage. D&D progressed into Rolemaster for me, while I dipped into many other RPGs, here and there (especially Traveller), but I still have a fond place in my heart for those games.
I met EGG once, at the GenCon that was held at the Playboy Club Resort in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I was playing in Paul Jaquays dungeon, sitting on the floor in the hotel, just down from the Green Room; we'd seen Fritz Leiber enter there just a few minutes before, and were in awe, when up came the originator of the rules we were playing. He was delighted to see us set up and playing, and was a real gentleman.
Back then my interests were fairly circumspect; wargames and SF was most of it. I'd been quite deep into WWII history back then. D&D led me to interests in the complexity of the world, and how it all interacts. I've never lost that, and for that, I'll always honor Mr. Gygax.