O Captain!

Dear Professor Zevi Blum,

I found out you died yesterday and it came as a total shock. You impacted my life in a wonderful way. I’m pretty sure you gave me one of the only Bs I ever got in college, but you were a mentor and a leader and an inspiration to all us kids. We were 18, just transplanted from all over the country and the world to one of the coldest collegiate environments in the world. And you were there to be hard on us, to care about us, and to change the way we thought about art forever. Perhaps it is because my mother is a teacher and I grew up surrounded by teacher’s kids, I will always hold teachers, mentors, professors, instructors, etcetera, in high regard. You were a special case, Professor Blum. You really challenged us and forced us to think outside the box. You gave us grades lower than we were used to and we brutally honest in your critiques of our work. But we always knew you were secretly (or not so secretly) rooting for us, that you wanted us to be great and that you knew we could be. We called you “Captain” (from the Whitman poem) and I can’t think of a more appropriate nickname. I admired you for being a wonderful, engaged professor, and I admired you for fleeing to my favorite city (San Francisco) when you retired. You were a wonderful mentor and I know there are Cornellians all over the world mourning your loss. Thanks, Captain.

Love,
Orlando

Link to Professor Blum’s Obituary

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