Dave McNett, longtime volunteer and birder, has passed away. I first met Mr. Mcnett--I never did call him Dave--in my first teaching assignment, a summer school psychology course, when he wandered into class in the middle of a lesson. He rattled off some research results that he'd read in the paper, asked me some tough questions, and, apparently satisfied with my answers, wandered off in search of another classroom.
That was Mr. Mcnett's way. When I landed a stable gig at Capital, blundering my way through my first full year as an English teacher, he wrote himself an invitation to come by whenever he saw fit, dispensing tidbits of knowledge from his vast storehouse, or, more pointedly, cracking jokes about the Bush administration. At the time I thought it amusing, if a little strange. Only later did I learn that he spent almost all of his time mentoring and tutoring students, or, to use a more suitable metaphor, taking them under his wing.
A couple years ago, I wrote, " If I hadn't met the love of my life, I'd have ended up just like him: a polyglot, polymath bachelor." And, I should add, a funny, passionate man with a charitable soul, a man who was a better teacher than many of us who claim the label.