In talking with halfspell
this afternoon, the subject of professors came up. And as I was pulling up pictures of Oltman and Strasser to show her, I started thinking of the two amazing professors I've lost.
It's hard enough losing a mentor. It's harder still to lose two of them within the space of a year -- particularly to two horrible diseases. One to Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, the other to ALS (aka Lou Gherig's)
Dr Hartzell: My thesis advisor. The man I spent more hours in his office during my senior year. Who left his door unlocked for whenever I needed to go into his office. The one time I was concertmaster at BW was for our production of Company
. The man who let me help pick the rest of the string section because he trusted my opinion. I was his last thesis student because he was going to retire at the end of my senior year. Who, on his retirement, let me go through his office and take whatever books I wanted. There was one of his Sondheim books that he never got to read. He let me borrow it first and I never gave it back. Now? It's my most prized possession. I still cry whenever I come across my packet of thesis works and see his writing.
I never got to say goodbye to him. I heard he was close to death and was planning on going to Cleveland that weekend. The Saturday I was going to go, we had a horrible snowstorm and I couldn't drive. The next day, he was dead. I still miss him so much. I may not have seen him after I graduated, but you don't work with a man so closely, go to a coffee shop for thesis meetings when you're tired of meeting in his office without becoming attached. Hell, thesis meetings were supposed to only be 30 mins. We'd spend 2 hours talking... mostly about theatre and everything in between... and then remember we were supposed to actually talk about my thesis.
Dr Feldman: God... so many of the stories about him are inside jokes that only we who sat through Harmony I and II with him would understand. Two words: the wombat shuffle. His off colour remarks were always a riot, not to mention how he could describe a woman he once knew who was built like a 6/4 chord and we'd all laugh. He was harmless, even if his stories usually had some sort of a sexual theme to them. He made harmony fun.
He, like Dr H, was always there if you needed him. He knew that I lived 2 hours away from school and always offered that if we were being kicked out of the dorms for breaks and I couldn't get home, I could stay with him and his wife until the weather cleared. I never had to, but the fact that the offer was there meant the world to me. He was my accompanist for 3 years -- not my senior year only because that's when his health problems began.
God. I got away with murder in his class. He'd give me extensions on his essay projects because he would tell me when he'd be grading my class's and I'd just make sure I emailed it to him before then. I had issues playing piano and he'd let me get by with playing a couple of the piano exercises -- always saying we'd do more the next semester but never doing it. He's the reason I can understand things in law school so easily. Half the times his stories never made sense then, by the end of class, you realised what he just said for the past hour was a metaphor for whatever we were learning. Now, picking out the important things in school is because of him. At least I got to say goodbye to him, though. He was at the memorial service for Dr H -- hardly able to stand up and couldn't speak. To see a man who was once so eloquent, who taught every class without notes? It killed me to see.
We just passed the first anniversary of Dr Feldman's death -- and in January it will be two years for Dr Hartzell.
Amazing how sometimes things... just hit you. and now, back to studying.