The Mentor has passed…

I am not going to be long-winded tonight. I am sad. I received sad news. And all I can do is share that moment of sadness. You don’t have to be sad yourself. Just allow me to intrude into your world in this moment of sadness.

R. Gordon McIntosh, the great mentor about whom I wrote a tribute last May, passed away on Saturday. His wonderful wife Norma informed me this evening. He didn’t seem to suffer long, but the shadow he leaves will be very long. Gordon was a exceedingly wonderful person. He will be missed by many, including me; his influence will continue for a long time, especially through me.

I met Gordon about forty-four years ago. We visited last year on the 40th anniversary of my gaining a Ph.D. But what is also interesting is that I met his son Bob, a senior public servant in Ottawa, a number of years ago when I was delivering a seminar/workshop to a group of leaders in a federal department. This working seminar dealt with ethics and leadership. At the time I thought it was neat that the son was getting to benefit from some learning in applied ethics that had originally been inspired by his father and delivered by a former student of his Dad. The circles of life can be very amazing.

You can go back and read about Gordon the mentor if you wish. But all you really need to know is that I never would have obtained a doctorate without him. I had been in a doctoral program at the University of Minnesota and even though I had a bright advisor, he was unable to unlock any of my potential as an academic. Gordon, on the other hand, was not only able to get me focused, he was able to get me to do the work and do it in a fashion that resulted in a successful defense of my dissertation — I’m sure at times it was a painful process for him, but he never gave up and he wouldn’t let me give up.

I am already missing Gordon. Not that we communicated every day — but that I always knew he was there, should I need his advice, insights or reflective responses. At the same time he will always be near, because he taught me to be a better writer and thinker and he believed in my interest in applied ethics. Thank you Gordon. Your own doctorate in education from Harvard was well deserved and well-earned and it helped make you a superb and thoughtful mentor.