I just made a very sad discovery brought on by a short conversation this morning. I was reminded of one of my professors from BYU, Brother Paul H. Peterson, when a co-worker said something about how busy things were last night and remarked, "Could an average consultant have handled it? No. But I on the other hand..." It brought to memory one of the favorite catch phrases that Brother Peterson would use in class. An example:
During the Fall semester 2002 there was a bit of a controversy surrounding the campus of Brigham Young University. Students at football games complained of being struck by air-borne objects alleged to be tortillas. After an intense investigation, it was discovered that indeed other students at the football games had brought tortillas to throw in celebration or anger or desperation, or whatever. The Science Department on campus decided to conduct an experiment. They had students stand at differing distances from each other and throw tortillas at each other to determine, no kidding, if it hurt or not. We were discussing this experiment one morning in Brother Peterson's class. A little later in class Brother Peterson said something wrong or something and apologized thus, "I'm sorry. I'm a bit discombobulated today. You see, I got hit by a flying tortilla on the way to class." A student asked, "Did it hurt?" With a twinkle in his eye (that I don't think ever went away), Brother Peterson said, "Well, it would have hurt an ordinary man."
And so it was. He told us on the first day of class that he had never been accused of being "a flaming ball of charisma," but that didn't stop him from endearing himself to every single student in that Christian History class, probably the most memorable class I ever had at BYU. Jessica had previously taken the class from him, so he knew us both. We would stop by his office once in a while, he would always be busy, but he didn't let that stop him from visiting with admiring students like us.
We knew that he was fighting leukemia, and left his position on the Religion Faculty. So when I thought of him this morning I did a google search of his name, and discovered his obituary. He passed away in September. I was heart broken that we hadn't heard of this sooner, but with neither of us at BYU we didn't have any contact with those who would have known.
His obituary included the sentence, "All who knew him, loved him, because he loved them first." And that is the absolute truth.
This is my short tribute to a giant of a man. To paraphrase something he said to a student one day, "He's a fine human being. I'm sure he'll go high in the final draft." And so he will.
2 years ago