Making it Personal

by Wayne Elder, 1969

I was lucky enough to have at least one class taught by Fr. Earl in each of my four years  at Aquinas. Although I can remember many unforgettable moments from those classes I guess one of my best recollections of The Man happened my senior year in 1969. Our class was told that we needed to have a  faculty advisor, just like every other class. I don't know who our advisor had been up to this point and I can assure you no one in our class really cared! But we responded to the administration that we wanted Fr. Earl and only Fr. Earl as our advisor. On this point all the seniors agreed. There had been some friction between Fr. Earl and the powers-that-be at AHS that year and we were not sure if our request would be honored, but in the end they agreed.

That year flew by and the next thing I realize is graduation is right around the corner. Traditionally the seniors would be presented their diplomas by the bishop of the diocese, but I assure you there was nothing traditional about the class of '69. So we decided to make  another request (demand) of the administration. We told them that we wanted Fr. Earl to hand us our diplomas, not the bishop. Oh the bishop could preside over the ceremony if he wanted to, but we wanted Fr. Earl on the stage to present the diplomas to the seniors! They made us sweat that one out for awhile before surprisingly agreeing.

I will never forget that evening because something amazing happened. Not only did Fr. Earl hand out each diploma,but he took thirty seconds or more with each one of us to relay a personal message or words of encouragement tailor-made to that individual. This man was the consummate teacher and one of the greatest individuals I have ever  been blessed to have known. I will never forget him.