Saturday, April 25, 2015


“Life is pleasant.  Death is peaceful.  It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”  Isaac Asimov

“‘All men are liars,’ said Roberta Muldoon, who knew this was true because she had once been a man.”  John Irving, “The World According to Garp”

At a retirement reception for Joe Pelliacciotti and David Malik, Chancellor William Lowe referred to the honorees as transitioning.  That evening Bruce Jenner used the same word in an interview with Diane Sawyer to describe his transitioning to a woman.  So far as I know, the former IUN vice chancellors are comfortable in their male personas.  Both have been with IU for 35 years, and Malik is returning to IUPUI’s Chemistry department while Joe might move to the West Coast.

Former acting chancellor Herman “Hy” Feldman passed away at age 88 in Tacoma, Washington.  In our history of IUN, “Educating the Calumet Region” Paul Kern and I wrote:

  The early Seventies could aptly be called the Herman Feldman years.  Feldman played a key role in campus planning, moving from chair of Arts and Sciences into an administrative deanship and then assuming the post of acting chancellor.  One of the “Old Gang” who favored keeping Liberal Arts the bedrock of the curriculum and making IUN a miniature IU, he was ultimately unsuccessful in seeking the permanent chancellorship.

Somewhat embittered that he was passed over in favor of Chancellor Dan Orescanin, in part, he believed, because he was Jewish but also because the Business and Education divisions sought a leader more amenable to their needs, Feldman never returned to campus, so far as I know, after he transitioned into retirement.  Now he’s completed his final transition

At Friday’s Faculty Organization meeting Neil Goodman recalled being good friends with Hy Feldman’s son Ted and seeing Hy at social gatherings after he retired.  Hy would always greet him in Yiddish and next ask about “my campus,” which he did so much to nurture.   Dean Mark Hoyert eulogized Feldman with typical verve.  Hoyert recalled the university’s early days after moving to our present Glen Park site:

  When Gary Main (Tamarack) first opened, the faculty shared one communal office.  There was one phone hanging on the wall for the entire faculty to share.  Hy was tasked with trying to convince Bloomington to allow them to get at least one more phone.  He called Bloomington and made his pitch.  The request was greeted with incredulity.  “How could it be possible they needed another phone?  Who were they calling all the time!  Surely that volume of calls could not be justifiable.”  And most irritatingly, “clearly the one phone was sufficient and working well; after all, he was using it to call them.”

Hy told a story about requesting some paper, some pencils, and an adding machine.  Bloomington could understand the paper and pencils, those were appropriate supplies for an extension teacher, but they put Hy through the ringer for the adding machine.  “Why would you need that?  Why can’t you just add it up using the paper and pencils we are giving you?”

I first met Hy in April of 1988 . . . and was especially privileged to benefit from his incredible wisdom earned through years of experience and his phantasmagoria of resulting stories. . . .  Once, when asked why we had been charged with completing yet another pointless and time consuming report, he pithily responded, “The bureaucracy needs its chow.”  Another time, Hy was asked if the university had grown more pernicious or whether we just hadn’t noticed it before.  His response was that “the enemy was always with us.”

Thank you Hy for your years of service and guidance.  We will remember the portly man with the rumpled suit and crooked smile.  We will try to follow your lead and strive to build a comprehensive university to serve the region.  We will feed the bureaucracy when necessary, will keep our eyes out for the enemy, and will resort to illusions to the Russian army only when absolutely necessary.  Alav Hasholom Haim Feldman.
An obit using an image of a young Herman Feldman stated that he served in the U.S. army in Japan and used the GI Bill to obtain a PhD from the University of Nebraska.  His family added: In retirement he became an avid flower and vegetable gardener, wine maker and woodworker. He left several woodworking projects undone and books unread because he could not stop being active and curious.”
above, Joseph Ferrandino; below, Demetra Andrews

At the retirement reception I met Marketing professor Demetra Andrews and SPEA professor Joseph Ferrandino.  Good old David Parnell, who attends virtually all university functions, was wearing a leather jacket similar to my old one that I outgrew and gave to Phil, which subsequently elicited several compliments from black men he passed on the street.  I refrained from telling Parnell, uncertain how Demetra would react.  Not surprisingly, she seemed to know Parnell and was very personable; I’d like to know her better.  Greeting Pamela Lowe, I commented, in reference to earlier remarks her husband and Chuck Gallmeier made, that Jake and Elwood did a good job.  They played the Blues Brothers in recent ads about the university. 
Richard and Ragen Hatcher in 2011

Evelyn Bottando was passing out chocolate concoctions on a stick that City Council candidate Ragen Hatcher brought to a rally that Eve helped coordinate.  Campaign manager Carolyn McCrady, who can be very persuasive, drafted Eve into service.  That evening on the phone with Mayor Hatcher we commiserated over George Van Til and Mary Elgin being unfairly targeted by federal prosecutors, something to which Hatcher himself was no stranger while in office.  He is justly proud that his daughter is still striving to make Gary a better place despite all the pitfalls in her path and that McCrady remains a loyal, resourceful campaign strategist.

Frank E. Lee, who is retiring from WXRT, does a Saturday morning bit about celebrities who died in the year being highlighted.  In 1979 baseball player Thurman Munson succumbed after crashing his small plane, and Vivian Vance (Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy), passed away at age 70.  Others who transitioned to the “Great Beyond” included actor John Wayne, clown prince Emmett Kelly and Sex Pistols punk rocker Sid Vicious.  On the way to the university I heard Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” that contains the line, which later appeared in Kurt Cobain’s suicide note, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”
 Raoul Contreras

Knowing that IUN grad Marla Gee would be up from Indy for the Seventh Annual Participatory Democracy Conference, organized by Minority Studies professor Raoul Contreras, I made it a point to attend.  Among the groups taking part were ALMA (Alianza Latina del Medio-Oeste de America), Iraq Veterans Against the War, The IUN Social Justice Club, and the University Community Environmental Partnership.  The morning workshop, “Public Education, Social Justice, and Democracy,” attracted about 60 participants and was ably led by Vince Emanuele, a former marine who served two tours in Iraq and is a founder of Veterans for Peace. An equally well-attended session took place on the second floor of the library.  I particularly liked the remarks of activist and radio host Juan Andrade, who emphasized that civic education needs to take place outside, as well as inside, the classroom and that sometimes it’s necessary for democracy to take place in the streets.  Contreras, who became a husband, father, and marathon runner in his 60s, was pleased with the turnout.
During a Cubs rain delay in Cincinnati ESPN showed the 2011 documentary “Renée,” about transgender tennis player Renée Richards (above), an ophthalmologist born Richard Raskind who had sex reassignment surgery in 1975 at age 41.  The following year, U.S. Open officials refused to allow her to compete in their tournament.  She successfully sued and played in 1977, losing her singles match in the first round to Virginia Wade but reaching the doubles finals with partner Betty Ann Stuart before losing to Martina Navratilova and Betty Stove.  While some women opposed her being allowed to play, Billie Jean King and Martina defended her right, perhaps realizing that the media fanfare would benefit the women’s tour.  Renée later became Martina’s coach when Navratilova won two Wimbledon titles.

I heard from two former students.  Alex Bencze emailed: I remember you in class as vibrant, filled with passion for history, one of the best ever at IUN.  Out of class I can see you wielding a tennis racket, usually playing doubles with your wife or sharing time at parties with students and faculty.  My wonderful days at IUN were made even better because of you and the interest you took in my life.”   Writing (a genuine letter) from Helena, Montana, Terry Helton noted: “Gary was my hell since I came out of the chute, whereas you and Toni were looking for something special and found it in the Region, of all places.”  Using a happy face, Terry signed the letter, “See ya!  Slalom, Terry.  P.S. I miss my teacher.”  Nice.

Nick Tarailo hosted one last weekend party at Bronko’s in Crown Point before the popular hangout went out of business.  Jerry Davich posted several photos on Facebook, including one of his aunt and uncle Phyllis Davich Mazeika and Lou Mazeika.

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