Goodbye and thank you
I don’t actually read my alumni magazine (sorry T). I get it…I flip through the pages…and I make snarky comments. That’s usually it. For some reason, yesterday when it arrived in the mailbox I spent a little more time. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t really READ it, I just skimmed it. Until I came to the memorial page and saw the name of the man who led my senior project class listed. Then I really read.
Lew Archer supervised my senior project class at Whitworth in the spring of 1990 (even though he’d technically retired in 1989). At Whitworth the Senior Project was akin to a thesis – that final cumulative work that sends you off in to the world. I remember damn little of the actual class except that the sun streamed in on afternoons and it was remarkably peaceful. I do, however, remember the hours and hours of hard work I put into that paper, “Jane Austen and the Father Daughter Relationship”. I lost about 10 pounds between the time I finished and when I was supposed to present it (10 pounds I could barely afford in 1990). Of all the writing I’ve done in my life, that is what I am most proud of.
It’s one thing to be proud of your work. It’s another to have a professor who is, well, let’s just say legendary, praise you as well. I’ve carried his words with me for over 20 years now.
Lew Archer’s obituary in the alumni magazine listed his career, how he met his wife, his volunteer work and the like. That’s the usual stuff of obits – I guess all it’s meant to be is a quick capsule of who a person is . What we do is just that: it’s what we do, not who we are. Who we are is evident in our actions and words to others, in how we inspire, comfort and sustain. I’ll consider myself lucky if at the end of my life even one person will remember me the way I remember Lew Archer, as someone who gave me faith in my own abilities.