If you’ve ever traveled to the Near North Side of Chicago, you might have seen a peculiar street sign. The street name is spelled G-O-E-T-H-E. And most people in call it “Go-thee.”
But if you’ve taken a little bit of German here at Mather, you know something that most Chicagoans don’t know. The correct pronunciation is “Gu(r)-tuh.” (The “r” is not pronounced).
But you still might not know who that is.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a writer, poet, philosopher, and scientist who was hugely famous by the time he died in 1832.
And here we are, and we can’t even say his name right.
I mention this, because we are here to honor some other people whose names you are even less likely to know, even if most of them might be a little bit easier to say. Just as Goethe was significant to cultured Germans of his time and after, these people were and are extraordinarily important to us.
They were our teachers here at Mather back in the 1960s. This year, we have decided to honor all of those teachers who made a difference in our lives — all those good men and women whose cleverness, dedication, and caring helped us along the way to becoming, we hope, educated people with the tools to make something of our lives.
It is fair to say that we would not be here today, able and willing to give scholarships to you, but for their influence.
And now my friend Barbara Orloff Litt will read you a short list of wonderful people who continue to live inside of us over 45 years since we last had regular contact with them. You will find no Chicago streets named after them, but they mean the world to us.
Thanks to all of them and thanks to you for listening to their names.
(The teachers so honored included Burl Covan, George Bayer, Abraham Fink, Jo Ann Rosow Greenblatt, Bob Kapolnek, Ralph Lewis, Patricia Daley Martino, Peter Miscinski, Kay Mulvey, William Paulick, Thomas Radzicki, Hy Speck, Nicholas Tasto, Rachel Topp, Eleanor Wollens, and Dawn McKee Wyman).