Earlier today, I mentioned in passing that I was going to a funeral for a good friend.
I think he deserves better than just a passing mention.
I knew Arthur Galub most of my life; he was a colleague of my dad’s where he worked, at Bronx Community College. The two of them spent their academic careers there, and retired at about the same time; Arthur taught political science and chaired the Social Sciences department, while my dad taught and chaired the History department, which made them units in the same firm that sometimes competed for resources, probably the best way to explain it to those not in the ivory tower crowd. Yet despite their points of competition, they were very good friends that shared quite a bit between themselves.
Arthur went into teaching after having gotten a law degree at Yale law, so yes, not everyone that goes to law school checks their soul at the door… He did practice on the side though, which gave me a professional contact with him.
No, not what you’re thinking; despite some of the purple prose that comes out from me with authority, I was pretty well behaved. What Arthur did was help me with some real estate, when I bought and then later sold an apartment in the Bronx.
Lots of people you can point to and say, “That person made me a man,” or “That person made me write.” I could point to Arthur and say, “He made me a member of the bourgeoisie.” Which I did a number of times, and he laughed every time; he could take a good joke, and considering where I stand on a lot of things it is pretty funny all said…
That was one of his great strengths, the ability to see both sides of an issue and understand where someone stood and how they got there. Because he wanted to know. And if he thought where someone stood was not a great spot, he’d give that person some good, persuasive reasons to move, appealing to reason and having a good argument at hand to move you.
What I didn’t know until the funeral was that after retirement, he kept taking classes at Columbia University because he could not stop learning. Yes, a few courses on business law and history, but the sections on astronomy and contemporary lit were surprises; or maybe they shouldn’t have been, as someone so keen in the dealing of knowledge would not be happy with only so much and no more.
And that’s what struck me the most as I spent the day thinking about him: In a time like ours when people turn up the volume to browbeat you into submission, facts be damned, we lost someone who was a real thinker, who not only had an open mind but shared it, very well, with others. We lost someone for whom reason was not a lost art, who showed us the value of open and working minds.
Arthur, I wish ye well beyond us.