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Felix Prael ’66

September 18, 2019, in San Diego, California.

Felix took a semester off from his studies at Reed to be a deckhand on a Standard Oil tanker. He came back, wrote his thesis, “Eggs in a Blind Gut,” with Prof. William Baker [English 1964–69], graduated, and then went back to sea for eight months. He rode motorcycles and worked for Sonoma State Hospital, where he met his first wife, Frances.

Felix taught English at a foreign language school in Kochi, Japan, for a year and a half and then took a job at a high school in Gosford, Australia, where he taught for 20 years. During this time, he contracted lung cancer and his left lung was completely removed. Given a 30% chance of living five more years, he began bushwalking from one to two hours a day to keep his single emphysemic lung working. He lived another 19 years. After 34 years in New South Wales as a teacher, union activist, and father to his two daughters, Felix returned to California to be with a woman with whom he had been corresponding for years. When he was a sophomore at Reed, Felix shared a flat with a Portland State student whom Carol Pantomura came to visit. Felix and Carol began corresponding.

“We’d enjoyed a relationship grounded in correspondence, suspended in the drift of elsewhere, for 40 years,” Felix wrote. Then they met again, resumed their correspondence, married, and spent 15 years together. Carol survives him, as do his two daughters, Laura and Grace, and their mother, Frances.

In 1971, he returned to Reed to earn a master of arts in teaching. “I consider Reed to have been a powerful experience in my life,” he said. “It provided me, not only with the intellectual apparatus, but the moral direction that has guided what I’ve made of my life—this in a home adopted fortuitously.”

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2020

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