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thoughts on the may issue
From Adriana Troxell Elliot ’93
a well-earned “f”
As you I felt sad after reading Eric Overmyer’s
article [“Burning House,” May 2002 Reed],
in which he equates being with biological life, having faith only in
what we can see with our eyes and know with our thinking brains. Which
gives ultimate power to forces of destruction and decay, since mortality
always wins out eventually. But my children teach me otherwise because
they are innately idealistic. We need ideals to survive reality joyfully.
I get out of bed in the morning because I make a conscious decision
to live according to ideals. Ideals are not based in cliché,
nor in blind optimism, but in a commitment of the heart to move toward
the light. Ultimately, our human lives are minuscule in the grand scheme
of time and multitudes. Regardless of how I go—be it a natural
death at a ripe old age or something gruesome and untimely—what
makes my life my own is how I strive toward my ideals. No act of violence,
no suicide mission, no breed of fanaticism can take that away from me,
or from any of us.
Aharon (Schlesinger) Sheer ’58
article about biology professor Kleinholz, in last November’s
Reed, reminded me of one (of many) conflicts I had with him.
In the early 1900s a biologist counted the number of chromosomes in the
human cell and published that there were 48. For decades biology textbooks
and lecturers repeated this number. Only around 1950 did someone prove
that a healthy human cell has only 46 chromosomes. Much to my surprise,
when I took Introductory Biology in 1957-58, Professor Kleinholz informed
the class that there were 48 chromosomes. After class I told him that
his information was out of date. At the end of the year Kleinholz gave
me an F in the class, but it certainly was not because we disagreed on
the number of chromosomes in the human cell.
remembering steve nygaard ’69....
Jeanie Daigle Nygaard Forte ’70
read with dismay the obituary of Steve Nygaard ’69 in the May 2002
of Reed. Steve grew up in Snohomish, Washington, and learned
his father’s trade of master carpentry, developing a love of fine
and antique furniture and an appreciation for hard labor. Still, he was
an intellectual first —much given to philosophy and debate. Reed
was his salvation — to discover a place with so many like-minded
people, so many others with keen and avid intelligence — was like
discovering heaven. He loved the heady atmosphere of inquiry and discussion
and appre-ciated the independence. He also discovered poker, which at
that time was king in lower commons, and Steve became a stakes player,
gambling to pay his rent. After graduation he moved to Palo Alto to work
for Hewlett-Packard. For the next few years Steve drifted between California
and Washington, eventually moving to Norway, where his parents had retired.
He worked for a series of electronics firms in Norway, writing, translating,
traveling all over Europe. The last time I spoke with Steve, he said he
had been diagnosed with stomach cancer, but had temporarily beaten it,
and was in high spirits. According to his father, he died rather suddenly.
His ashes are interred in Norway, next to his mother. Ron Hinckley ’69
and I are planning a service in Steve’s memory, to be held in Portland
in August. For details, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
....and milt fischer ’87
Eric Contey ’83
Reed alumni in Portland and around the country were
devastated by the death of Milton Fischer ’87. He was a brilliant
hunter and fisherman and a very special, charismatic man. His requiem
at the Nehalem firehouse was attended by people from all walks of life,
for one couldn’t meet Milt, even casually, and not value his dynamic
personality and skills as an outdoorsman. To me, Milton will forever
mean flowing water, high ridges, open country. Beginning on a hunting
trip down an ice-rimmed John Day River in 1986, right through the last
time I saw him, Milton was a continuous treasure of outdoor experience.
I watched him consistently out-fish and out-hunt everyone who dared
to compete, directly or indirectly. He was a virtuoso at his craft and
in his life. While his outstanding abilities in the field were recognized
and acknowledged by all, only those privileged to know him well realized
his many other sterling qualities. He was an amazing chef, a tower of
strength, in addition to being incredibly generous, sensitive, and chivalrous.
Milton Fischer was hard not to love, a unique person, and now the world
is just not the same. I still hear the rivers calling him, a paean to
the fallen master: Dean, Deschutes, Necanicum, John Day, Snake, Nehalem,
Grande Ronde, Owyhee, Lostine. Adios, my great friend. [Ed. note: Read
more about Milt here.]