Semper Ubi Sub Ubi

10 12 2011

Carl Wingate taught Latin at Kelso High School in Kelso, Washington for 31 years.  As his students, my siblings and I would often relay his personal stories to our parents–his childhood sledding accident where he met an all-steel bumper with his chin, living with a monkey that didn’t like his music and ate his fluorescent paint, which resulted in glow-in-the-dark “jellybeans” all over his apartment, or taking deaf students to dance clubs with light-up floors for an education in psychedelic music.  The stories seemed so fantastic, and our admiration of the man was so all-encompassing, that my father began jokingly referring to him as “Saint Carl.”  Carl Wingate died Saturday, December 3, at 72.

To see Carl Wingate laugh was to know what true joy really is.

As an instructor and as an artist, I look to Carl Wingate as an example of what is possible in terms of making meaning in interaction.  Walter Hopps defines art as providing “the possibility for love with strangers.” Wingate created an atmosphere of love in every classroom he entered, with every group of students he taught.  But once you were in that atmosphere, he wasn’t a stranger anymore.  He was an old friend even if you’d only known him for a few minutes.

Mr. Wingate’s students learned more than Latin, Ancient Culture, Greek and Roman Mythology, or even his amazing life stories. His lessons weren’t limited to slides, lectures, and translating documents; he taught by example. Through his infectious joy, his patience, his ability to engage with students, and his willingness to listen, we saw what we are all capable of as people. Carl Wingate isn’t just a pillar of the Kelso community, he is a pillar of the human community.  He will be missed.

To learn more about Carl Wingate, please read the following stories from The Daily News (Longview, WA).

Educator, Philosopher, and Pigeon Benefactor Carl Wingate Dies at 72

Obituary, Carl Wingate

Programming note:  Contemporary Critique will be on hiatus for the month of December.  Posts will resume January 6.  See you in 2012!

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