Time to take a break from history …
I hear folks talking about making sure they work on their “Bucket List,” typically a list of things they want to do before they die – go to certain places, eat certain foods, do certain things, etc, etc.
Over the past few years I have been working on my own list of things I need to do.
But rather than doing this, or eating that, it turns out that, in addition to my family, there are four people who played a significant part of my life and helped me to learn some important life lessons.
My Bucket List has been focused on contacting each one and thanking each for helping me.
After several decades, it is not always easy to find someone in the mobile society we live in. Fortunately, I was able to made my contacts and expressed my appreciation. Here are the people and lessons they taught me:
I was in Al Harrington’s Punahou summer school ancient history class (BTW, I hated history in school – imagine, ancient history in summer school, ugh.)
Yes, this is the same Al Harrington who went on to play “Detective Ben Kokua” in Hawaii Five-O and also was on stage as “The South Pacific Man” at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
After years of searching for his phone number or e-mail address, I unexpectedly saw him at a UH basketball game and took the opportunity to let him know how much his faith, counsel and advice helped me.
Anyway, without going into details, Al gave me and others an important second chance. Sometimes people do dumb things – it’s important to have faith that others can learn from their mistakes.
Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to thank Jim Taylor for teaching me the important lessons of having integrity and taking personal responsibility for your actions – he died before I could tell him. Somehow, though, I think Jim Taylor knew of the influence he had on young adults.
As headmaster of HPA, Jim Taylor touched the lives of many. While not a father figure, he shepherded a bunch of boys into manhood from the mid-50s through the mid-70s and taught each these important life lessons.
There is a certain ‘something’ about HPA graduates, thanks to Jim Taylor. Integrity and taking personal responsibility are good qualities to have; Jim Taylor taught us that.
Several years ago, out of the blue, I contacted Carle Hunt, a professor I had when I was a student at the University of Denver – 40-years before. Ever since leaving DU, I have thought about some words of kindness and encouragement he gave me.
It was a difficult time; I was in a real estate course (that I loved,) but somehow, we just didn’t get along. I dropped his class and went to talk with him about it – I remember our conversation.
I tracked him down over the internet and found him teaching on the East Coast. When we communicated for the first time after 40-years, he said he didn’t remember me or the talk we had.
I told him that was OK; what was important was that I remembered him and what he said. I thanked him for helping me become the person that I am. We all should give words of encouragement to others.
Some people go through life dreaming of doing something, but never find a way to fulfill that dream.
Ed Van Gorder was headmaster at Parker School and gave me the chance to fulfill my lifelong dream, teaching high school math. Those were my best years.
He had the faith and took a chance. Over the years, I have had the chance to see Ed, off and on. We used to go out to dinner, play golf and we’d see each other at UH football games.
He moved to Maui, a few years ago, and we have since lost touch (however, I did have a chance get-together with him at the airport, a while back.)
I am forever grateful to these four people who taught me about giving second chances, so people can learn from their mistakes; living life with integrity and taking personal responsibility for your actions; giving words of encouragement to others, so they can succeed in life; and helping someone to fulfill their dreams.
Did you see the pattern here? Each of these people is a teacher. But their teaching went beyond the subject matter; they also taught very important life lessons.
From my perspective they were in the right profession … and I was fortunate to be with them in the right place at the right time.
As I was making contact and thanking these people who helped me, a much-appreciated surprise came my way.
Out of the blue, I received an e-mail with the Subject line, “Former student of yours from Parker”. The text read:
“I doubt you would remember me but I am a former student of yours. You were not at Parker long but in that short time you taught me many things. …”
“The reason I am writing is that I was asked what teacher made an impact on me and I thought you seemed to be the only one who not only taught me a subject that is difficult but really cared about me and the rest of your students.”
“So for that you made an impact in my life. I hope whatever you are doing nowadays is going the best for you and I thank you again.”
A little later, I received a Facebook message from another former student … “Not sure if you remember me. I was at Parker school in the late 80’s early 90’s.”
“Seems like a life time ago! … you were one of those teachers that made such a positive influence on me, and I really do thank you for that … You were the best Math teacher ever!!! Thank you….”
Of course, I remembered them; and, wow, that was nice.
With that part of the List now covered, I have only one more item on my Bucket List.
I look forward to realizing that wish …
Karen Harp says
❤️ Thanks for sharing!
William Troy says
I graduated from HPA in 1960….Two people who I still think about and have influenced my life over the years are James Taylor and Ed Van Gorder! Every kid, today, could use their influence…..
Thanx for the article…..
Harry Morley says
A nice surprise this morning, seeing a couple of names I knew, one of whom absolutely changed my life.
I was at HPA from ’57 to graduation in ’61. Jim Taylor was Headmaster and I fortunately have never been the same. Among many lessons he taught me to make my own way and to not be part of the crowd. His voice has never been far from me.
Ed van Gorder started teaching at HPA the same year I entered ninth grade.
Thank you for shining a light on very good memories.
William N Jardine says
God bless you for this, Peter. Happily I knew two of the four and did get a chance to thank Jim Taylor for actually saving me from taking the road to the wrong destination.
Imua, old friend,
Miki Jenkins says
That was lovely. Happy Birthday and Blessings to you.
Elisabeth Heine says
I appreciated reading this article and reflecting on your bucket picture. Mahalo.