As a young man, MSU’s alumni magazine occasionally brought information about classmates, but was by and large an irrelevant publication. Adding a couple more degrees brought more alumni magazines – and the deaths column became something I watch more. Not sure why – perhaps to make sure I’m not there.
Today, STATE listed Jeeta Kant and Bob Mendelsohn. I met Jeeta when she was unable to get into the sociology Master’s program, and couldn’t understand why her 35 year-old bachelors in Soc didn’t punch all the buttons – she had good grades, but lacked the research. A colleague in geography looked at the books she had done on Hutterite colonies, and in 2008 she completed her MS in geography on the topic. After that, she worked on a research project in the civil engineering department, on edible and usable plants on the Pine Ridge, completing her Ph.D. in 2013, at the age of 66. She spent a few years as a postdoc researcher before retiring. Jeeta didn’t have a conventional academic career, but she did show that age isn’t an insurmountable handicap, and combining a research career with social security isn’t impossible.
Bob Mendelsohn’s specialty was deviance – and it always struck me as a bit strange that our deviance prof was the closest to the norm. I mean, the guy was married to his high school girlfriend, from 1967 until he went away this May. He retired in 2008, and spent several hours telling me of his return to studying his Judaism. He was challenged by the thought of giving up deli ham sandwiches – hopefully keeping kosher came easier as he moved to the east coast. I’ll remember a Jewish researcher who loved the green and red decorations, and the music of Christmas. Totally different upbringings – but a good friend who left the world a better place for having been here.