I received my alma mater's English Department newsletter today. On the cover was a photograph of Dr. Raymond Phillips, and an article delivering the news that he had passed away this past October. I've spent the last half-hour trying to track down an obituary to learn more. I just found one.
I first met Dr. Phillips in my American Literature class. I'm not exactly sure why he was cursed with teaching this freshman class. Perhaps it was the English department's version of a weeder class. All I knew was that Dr. Phillips was hard. And strange. Most students avoided his classes if they had the chance.
I didn't have a class with him again until my senior year. Most folks took their senior seminar with the favorite teach Dr. Ray Stevens. I couldn't fit the fall class into my schedule so I was stuck with Dr. Phillips in the spring. It's a situation I am thankful for to this day.
That class was a joy. So many folks took the class in the fall that there were less than a dozen of us. It turned out that Dr. Phillips wasn't that strange -- he just hated freshman and enjoyed playing with their minds. Did I work hard in that class? You better believe it. But I did it as much FOR Dr. Phillips as because of him. He challenged us. And I learned more in that class than just about any other in my four years at Western Maryland.
It's strange to think Dr. Phillips is now gone. The obit said he was 75 and had a stroke. He's not the only professor that I know has passed on. Dr. Keith Richwhine died while I was a senior. I'm pretty sure Dr. Ray Stevens is gone. And I'd be surprised if Dr. Del Palmer was still around. An era has past. They were smart, insightful, talented and caring men. I'm honored that I was able to spend the time with them that I did.