Ken Harvey has died. Ken was my high school chemistry and physics teacher and also one of the coaches of the quiz bowl team. The team often traveled out of town for matches and tournaments, so I spent many hours riding in the school Suburban as Mr. Harvey drove and we debated every topic imaginable.
But Mr. Harvey was more than one of my old high school teachers. He was also one of the most influential persons in my life.
In high school I was a rather conservative Republican and Southern Baptist who, like most kids, thought he knew more than he actually did. Harvey was one of those people who revealed a wider world. He espoused no religion but was the most ethical person I knew. When I'd state an opinion, he might offer a different way of looking at the topic. My many hours in conversation with Harvey both inside and outside the classroom opened my mind to new possibilities.
While home from college one break Juan Penalosa and I once took Ken and Kay Boman, the other quiz bowl coach, out to dinner to say thank you for their roles in our lives and educations. Years later when Ken and Kay married, Michael and I were able to be there. Last year they visited us in order to meet Sebastian. I told my son that these people helped make me who I am.
That I'm a more open-minded person, a more inclusive person, a more peaceful and just person is partly Ken Harvey's contribution to my life. A gift so great that though I tried I never could adequately thank him for. And so I grieve the loss of this teacher I deeply admired and respected, such a good and wise man.