Monday, March 30, 2009


An Excerpt from my Father's Obituary:

"Eskey, David E., Professor and Program Director of the MSTESOL program in the USC Rossier School of Education died of a heart attack on Saturday, October 19th while attending the winning USC football game. He was a lifelong sports enthusiast. In the spirit of true athleticism, David exhibited a commitment to excellence that was evidenced in every aspect of his life.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1933, Dr. Eskey earned his B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University, M.A. in English from Columbia University, a second M.A. in Linguistics and his Ph.D in English from the University of Pittsburgh.

The Manhattan Beach resident had worked at USC in various positions since 1975, including director of the USC American Language Institute. He also taught at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

Married for the first time to Nancie Redpath Doughty in Baghdad, Iraq, he spent most of the next ten years living and teaching in Baghdad, Beirut and Bangkok."

The obituary goes on to talk about his copious professional achievements, but fails to adequately address his role as a father and a family man. Obituaries are by nature short and insufficient.

So here is where this blog comes in.

I want to be sure that my father's personal achievements are also remembered, as they are synergistically entwined. Without the solid foundation of his professional life, he would not have been able to successfully raise three daughters. Without a happy family life, he would not have become the much beloved Professor who is still remembered fondly by his students today.

What is the mark or measure of success in a man's life? I think it is the balance of the two, with perhaps the third leg of the stool being the spiritual life, or in his case, the life of the intellect, the imagination, the mind.

My father always, up until the day he died, prioritized his family. Our last planned trip together (to our family's timeshare in Sedona) was scheduled for the week after he died. We had to cancel that trip, and for reasons that are somewhat unclear to me, I have still, six and a half years later, never been invited back.

A dear friend of his shares this memory of my father:

Anyone who ever met David, and especially those of us fortunate enough to have been among his many friends, can attest to his immense personal charm. His sense of humor --- sly, irreverent, and self-deprecating --- combined with an easy laugh made him welcome company. Widely traveled, well-read, and socially and politically engaged, David brought energy and interest to a surprising range of topics, from basketball to world politics. And his talent as a raconteur was legend.

As his many professional achievements attest, David took his work and the work of his colleagues very seriously. But he never took himself too seriously. This was perhaps the greatest of his personal charms. It certainly made him a pleasure to work with. It also allowed him to keep focus on those things that were clearly important to him: family and friends. In particular, he took special joy in watching his daughters mature into happy, accomplished women.

My father's death has left an empty space in our family that will, most likely, never be filled. It is with great sadness that I dedicate this site to him, in the hopes that my words will somehow bring some of his spirit back into our lives.

My father understood that the world was a much bigger place than just him, and that is what made him a great man.

If I leave you with no other thought than this, I will have done my service for the day: Whatever you are thinking, whatever you are doing, please let it go. Try to reach for higher ground.

No comments:

Post a Comment