One of my mentors died yesterday.
Rest in peace Dr. Craig Gannon.
When I was a doofus of an 18 year old college freshman more interested in what girl I had a shot with than academics of any kind, Dr. Gannon endured academic advising sessions with me that must surely have caused him to wonder what the Hell he was doing with his life. With folded hands on his crossed legs, and with the ubiquitous classical music of Kansas Public Radio playing behind him, he made gentle suggestions of ways to fill my schedule with core requirements. What a thankless chore.
That spring I took his Language Studies class. It was an overview of linguistics, and I was totally and hopelessly lost.
Still, two years later I decided on Language and Literature as a major, and over the next four semesters Dr. Gannon taught me Shakespeare, Kipling, Wordsworth, Woolf. He made me analyze prose and memorize poetry. The work I do now as a preacher and teacher derive directly from a sensitivity to tone and context, rhythm and diction, that I learned at his feet.
In 2002 he came to my wedding.
In 2006 he retired, and I was honored to write about it for the alumni magazine. The phone interview I did with him from the Memphis airport was the last conversation I had with him.
Today I recommit myself to the ideal of the literary life in honor of Dr. Craig Gannon.