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…use of “major” was coined by William Rainey Harper…

Weintraub remembered
I assume this is one of the hundreds, if not thousands, of letters you will receive on the death of a great teacher, Karl Weintraub. I had the good fortune to take the History of Western Civ sequence from him in 1964–65. I don’t know if students slept in the halls to register for Weintraub’s sections then—after all, Christian Mackauer still taught, and I would guess if any sleeping in the halls to register for a particular section was going on, it would have been for him.

As readers may have noted I used the word “great” to describe Weintraub. Thanks to him (and other teachers at the U of C), it is an adjective I use sparingly. This is the rare opportunity to use that word unvarnished, with due discretion, honestly. In my mind’s eye I can see him, in suit and vest, looking directly into the eye of the student who began the answer to a question, “Well, I feel ...” and drawing up to his full height, using his Dutch girth to the value of the last gram, interrupting, “Mr. [or Miss] ... I do not care what you feel. I v[w]ant to know what you think.”

By chance, in the week before my graduation in 1967, I ran into Mr. Weintraub at some event, now forgotten. By then I knew how he had already shaped me and more importantly helped me to begin to understand myself. In the past 40 years there are many things unsaid, which should have been said, but in that June week of 1967 I had the presence of mind to go up to Weintraub and thank him. When I approached him, I was not even sure he would remember me—a mediocre student. In a life of small honors since, his knowing exactly who I was, his interest in my plans for the future, takes pride of place. I, along with untold legions of former students—not to mention his family and friends—will long remember this remarkable man and teacher.

Richard Gordon, AB’67
Berkeley, California

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