It was wonderful to have Jim as a fellow grad student in German at Madison. He could be counted on for a read of text that was both thoughtful and quick. His jaunty “Hey, Johnny!” always startled this shy student — but it was so welcome! If I was OK by Jim, I was OK period.

When last I saw him, Jim was sitting in the office of one of the German department’s best-known professors and looking nervously glum. I had heard there were problems with the dissertation, or maybe with the proposed topic.

If someone on the eighth floor of Van Hise Hall told Jim that he would have a hard time getting a tenure-track job because he was gay, that person did Jim no favor. Every one of us had a hard time: There were so few good jobs! And the assertion that homosexuality would be a problem for any languages/German department that was hiring around 1980 was ridiculous. Arts and sciences faculties have had gay faculty members forever; some places more openly than others, yes. But still, forever. What a loss for German studies!

It does sound as though a really good man died happy — playing bridge with a computer and, I’ll bet, winning.

John W. Van Cleve
Stillwater, Minn