Friday, December 26, 2014

From:  Emily Williams


Well, everyone. I've had a shock this evening.
I was reading today's Observer late before heading to bed after a day of much festivities and toing and froing...when I came across the obituary for Dr. James McGavaran, my cherished British Lit professor from Grad school (UNCC). 
I had no idea he had passed away this past Saturday at the age of 73 from what was reported to be a stroke. This was the first I had heard of it.


I was thinking about him just today; remembering taking his course on Nature and early 19th century poetry (Wordsworth...always Wordsworth). I was remembering his words and his comments about the papers I wrote about a person's connection to place, landscape and memory, relating it all back to literature and the authors we were reading. 

He was a man who cried at the drop of a hat...over poetry...or anything sentimental. He was one of the kindest men I had ever met. We all shared a lot of laughter in that class; a lot of heartfelt discussions. Of course, on the first day of the course, I remember one of the assignments was to think about a place in our past (childhood, etc.) and write about how it "made us feel" and this included drawing a picture of it. At first, I thought "You have GOT to be kidding me..." but eventually after I became immersed in the course, I fell in love with McGavaran's teaching style. I remember going to a nature preserve (for the life of me, I cannot remember which one) somewhere in the Charlotte area for a class field trip of sorts. All part of McGavran's angle on learning about nature and the Romantics. It was a memory I'll hold on to.

I understand that life is unpredictable (oh my, have I learned that lesson well), but this was so unexpected. You always expect your professors to live on forever. I can only imagine what his family must be going through, losing their father, husband and grandfather a week before Christmas. 
I'll say more on this later. For now, thank you, Dr. McGavran. You were a good man. I won't forget you. 

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