An odd thing happened in my life several years ago. Out of the blue came a strong memory that arrested my attention and interrupted my plans. It is a true story that began in the late 1970s when I returned for my third year of college after spending the better part of a year working overseas at the Ecumenical Institute, Chateau de Bossey, in Celigny, Switzerland.
This story is of a unique friendship that began that fall and continued until death interrupted in 1994. I hesitated to write this until I could speak with one of his daughters to gain approval for what will likely take quite a few blog posts and time. I finally located his eldest daughter on the other side of the country, and we had an excellent phone conversation spanning two and a half hours.
I was a twenty-one-year-old who had enrolled in a class at a college in Ohio. Although an English major, I signed up for a Criminology course in the Sociology department. I must confess that there were times during my college years when I skated through classes without exerting too much time or energy. But this particular course captured my imagination, partly because it was outside the mainstream of my academic study. But the professor ably taught it, and putting my nose to the grindstone was gratifying.
The first time I entered his office, I saw stacks of books everywhere. It was a phenomenon I understood. My parents kept building bookcases in our home; both were voracious readers. My mother had a Master’s degree in Literature; my father wanted to be a pastor and read widely in history, scripture, and theology. In time he became a Lawyer — but he always retained that earlier passion.
As the course went on, a question kept nagging at me. Finally, like the young upstart I was, I threw caution to the wind and asked my prof why he had a Master’s degree but not a Ph.D. He did not answer my question. He said perhaps he would tell me one day. One day he did. But it did not happen very soon.
Stay tuned for the second part of the story.