The Last Man of Letters
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loved UCLA, even followed the football team through good times and
bad, which perhaps we can count as a sort of fulfillment of physical
vigor, as shown by fondness for and success in sports. He was true
to his school, to all of his schools, till the end, speaking at
the 60th reunions of his class at the Shanghai American School and
Occidental. In 1996, Occidental gave him the (honorary) Ph.D. he
was proud of what he knew, but never arrogant," says Zarem, still
the awestruck student. "He understood that not everyone would know
him or his work. His scholarship was not mainstream, but he didn't
care if he was off in the corner. He loved his corner, and he was
willing to share his corner so generously. He taught me that you
can do your own specialized work and still be a human being."
was as generous a father, husband and comrade as he was a scholar,
artist and teacher. He was too wickedly funny, too human, to be
the "ideal man" that Cecil John Rhodes was looking for, but I say
he was more. He was the man who, at age 62, and still tall, skinny
and asthmatic, taught me, then a rowdy 10-year-old, how to ride
a bike - his physical vigor proven, once and for all.
THINGS I DIDN'T KNOW BEFORE I KNEW JOHN
know that navel oranges are much sweeter than Valencias, and
easier to peel.
didn't know that sometimes it's appropriate (and fun) to judge
a book by its cover.
didn't know how much fun my mom was capable of having.
didn't know that men could be so gentle.
didn't know how to feel safe.
didn't know how to watch birds.
didn't know the doing little favors, just because you want
to, can make you a hero.
didn't know that consistency, patience, honor or class.
didn't know how much you could love someone you weren't related
to, and how much they could love you.
didn't know how much I would miss him.