Monday, April 27, 2009

Sweet Memorial

As part of the annual Symposium a couple weeks ago, the department took the opportunity to dedicate a new conference room. One of the professors emeritus passed away recently, and the new conference room was named in his honor.

The fancy dinner at the end of the symposium was well-attended by alumni students of the lab, alumni professors of the lab, and of course students who then became professors and are now part of the lab. Friends of the honored professor came out to honor his memory, and at the end of the dinner a microphone was passed around for anyone who wanted to pay their respects.

And I have to say it was so sweet to hear how well-respected and well-remembered this man is. Those who were in contact with him all had stories to tell about how he inspired them, or mentored them along the way.

There were bits of humor, as well. The last student to receive his PhD under this professor before he retired took an exceptionally long time to graduate (which is saying something for a PhD, which can be a painful drawn-out process to begin with). This final student remembered being in the professor's office one day and having the professor tell him "You know, if you would just graduate I could retire!". Shortly thereafter he successfully defended.

Or the student who heard about the professor and "Gladys" quite frequently in the office water cooler talk, and assumed it to be the professor's wife. When he was invited to the professor's home for dinner and discovered that the professor's wife was Connie, he was so worried about disclosing the possible affair he could hardly make conversation. Later he learned that "Gladys" was the professor's computer, a nickname actually given to it by the wife because he spent so much time with it. The "other woman" was quite a novelty for that era... the confused student was much relieved.

I know I'm not going to be a professor, but I hope to be an inspiration like this man to people along my career. If nothing else, I hope I at least leave my friends with unforgettable stories!

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