Sep. 17th, 2006

oneirophrenia: (Blue Me)
Goddamnit. Ahab has shuffled off this mortal coil. Here's the details as taken from the Herald-Standard via [livejournal.com profile] lyssabard's LJ:

Ronald L. Forsythe, 71, of California, Pa., died Saturday, September 16, 2006, in Uniontown Hospital.

He was born February 19, 1935, in West Brownsville, Pa., the youngest child of the late James and Bessie (Snyder) Forsythe.

Alife-long lover of baseball, Ron pitched in the Brooklyn/LA Dodgersorganization from 1955-60 before leaving professional sports foracademia. During the mid 60's, Ron joined the Peace Corps and taughtEnglish in Nigeria for 27 months. After returning to the States, heattended North Dakota State University, receiving his Masters Degree in1968. He and his new bride returned to California, Pa., and he beganhis long career as a professor at California University of Pennsylvaniathat same year. His charisma and maverick teaching approach made him aperennial favorite among students; upon his retirement from theUniversity in 2004 he was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus. Hespent the last years of his life at home writing short stories.

Ronald was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers, Willis, Robert, and Carl Forsythe; and one sister, Carol Firestone.

Leftto cherish his memory are his wife of 38 years, Cherryl (Swenson)Forsythe, and their two sons: Aaron and wife Anne Forsythe of Renton,Wa., and Neil Forsythe of California, Pa.; and three sisters: Charlotte"Sis" and husband Mahlon "Mac" Pritts of Lowhill, Pa., Marsha andhusband Harris Earl of Brooksville, Fl., and Lola and husband Tom Hillof Waynesburg, Pa. Also surviving is his granddaughter, Athena Forsytheof Renton, Wa., and numerous nieces and nephews.

Friends will bereceived in the MARISCOTTI FUNERAL HOME, INC., Anthony N. Mariscotti,Supervisor, 323 Fourth Street, California, Pa., on Monday, September18, from 7 to 9 p.m., on Tuesday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. and until11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 20, 2006, when services will be heldin the funeral home.

Interment will follow in Lafayette Memorial Park.













There'll be a due tribute to this great, great man in my blog in a day or two, so I'll save my major comments for there, but suffice to say: Another leg of the great tripod of English teachers who taught me everything I know has fallen. Cal U's English Department has suffered its next-to-last blow. Mind you, as you can see, ol' Ahab was a bit up there in years and hadn't been well for some time--but nonetheless, his death is...a bit of a shock. I was planning on calling him this week to tell him there's a new Cormac McCarthy book coming out.

I never had Forsythe for a single class, but that doesn't mean he and I weren't close while he was still teaching, and after, though my own teaching career and my annoying habit of losing touch with people I don't see everyday put some distance between us. Nonetheless, I owe everything to Ahab, and Bernie, and Alan (the last surviving member of the Trinity). They made me what I am.

Only one thing I can do now: keep the tradition going. Out of all the people who studied at Cal U and knew Ahab, I think I'm the only one keeping the torch alive in the college classrooms. And I'll do it until I die. I was kind of doubting, earlier this year, whether I'd be able to keep teaching since I haven't been making much money and all that shit. Well, you know what? FUCK the money. I never got into this to get rich in the first fucking place--I did it because men like Ahab inspired me to do it and peeled off all the layers of bullshit I'd caked around myself over the years to show me that this is what I'm meant to do. Bernie DeFilippo, my thesis advisor and friend, never even got to see me finish my degree and hit the boards on the other side of the desk--but Ahab did, and I will NEVER forget what he told me last year when I started teaching at Cal U:

"Never give up on a student until that student gives up on you. At which point you know you are the one who fucked up."

Don't even think for one goddamned minute that I'm going to invalidate all the inspiration and advice he and B and Alan and everyone who knew this was what I was cut out to do have given me over the years. I don't give a shit if I have to live in a ditch and crawl forth by night to teach writing by foxfire in an abandoned springhouse, this is My Thing. As it was Ahab's Thing. And Bernie's Thing.

The king is dead! LONG LIVE THE KING!

And don't worry, Ahab, I still have all the books you loaned me--and I'll be sure I get you a copy of the new Cormac McCarthy book! Might be a bit difficult to get it to you now, but I'm sure I'll figure out a way sooner or later. :)

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