There’s a somber mood around my campus community in the last few days. One of our beloved and respected history professors was tragically killed in an accident downtown. Rhett was out walking his dog, Beth, and a car jumped the curb of the sidewalk he was on, striking him fatally. His dog is okay and with friends of his, as far as I know.
Everybody is sad, especially in Arts & Sciences, but across the community. It’d be impossible to be here, on this campus, and not know who he is. He stands out as a pillar of the community, walking his dog around campus, letting his big laugh fill up a hallway, educating more than 100 students per semester.
I feel the shock of this death, deep in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t know him really well, but he taught in a classroom right across the hall from my office. I loved hearing him teach and walking by to see all of his students so intently engaged with what he was saying. It helped that he told them outrageous stories about the people involved in history. Earlier this term, I posted on Facebook that I liked hearing my colleagues teach from my office, and someone thought I was being sarcastic. It was the truth. I will imagine hearing his voice outside my door for a long time. I hope that his friends and family and students find solace in how well he is remembered by all.