Memorial for RBH

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Memorial for RBH

Postby stcordova » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:23 am


A common remark I hear from Christians and other religionists is that an atheist must feel very alone, very isolated, very afraid of death. Not a chance.

Late every night, rain or shine, I walk my big dogs, Sherlock and Watson, usually between 1:00 am and 3:00 am. I live out in the country on 3.5 acres, and while there is some light pollution from my neighbor’s yard light, the meadow up on the north end of the place is shielded by trees and there’s a good view of the north and east sky from overhead to the horizon and half-way to the horizon in the south. When it’s clear the stars are bright. The Great Bear circles around its smaller sibling, the one with Polaris at the end of its handle. Depending on the time of year Casseopia swims in the Milky Way or Orion stalks the sky to the south. Thousands of stars are in view, and there’s an occasional meteor, the moon, or a planet or three for variety.

And every night that I see the stars I think — consciously think — that I am made of star stuff, to steal Carl Sagan’s phrase. Every atom in my body heavier than helium (and virtually all the helium, too) was manufactured in stars by the fusion reactions that produce their heat and light. At the end of those stars’ lives the heavy elements — carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, iron and so on — were flung into space when the stars went nova. Later, another star and its planets — our solar system — condensed out of the clouds of elements generated in those earlier stars and in the end, after many millennia of chemical and biological evolution, those elements made me and my dogs.

So I am literally part of the universe: I am made of elements manufactured in stars. And I am aware of that fact every night when I walk my dogs.

And then there are my dogs, Sherlock and Watson. Both are strays — they chose us, coming to the house out in the country without identification. In spite of our best efforts to find them, their previous owners never appeared, and so Sherlock and Watson have stayed with us.

Sherlock is a Doberman/Rottweiler cross, the best-natured dog I’ve ever had. Watson is a setter/something cross and a goofball. Sherlock was in very good shape when he showed up, with a brand-new collar but no ID. Watson was full grown but was near starving to death — though full-grown he weighed just 40 pounds and every bone in his body was visible. Now they’re both around 70 pounds and are sleek and healthy.

And they are my cousins. That’s a fact of biology: My dogs are my cousins. Many times removed, of course, but we are family in more than the pet/master sense: we’re “blood” relatives. So when I walk them up north every night, we’re a genuine family walking together, three cousins, all of us made from the same star stuff. And I am consciously aware of that fact every night.

When I die I’ll be cremated. My ashes will be scattered somewhere, maybe in a bit of virgin forest that still survives about 40 miles south of here. The atoms of which I’m composed will re-enter the earth’s biological and geological cycles, some being incorporated into plants or animals, some sinking into the earth or riding the wind. And then, billions of years hence when the sun bloats up into a red giant to engulf the earth, boiling off its atmosphere and crust, my atoms will be flung back into space, riding the waves of matter and energy that the sun throws out in its spasms.

So I am connected to the universe on both ends, from the creation of my atoms to their final journey to the stars. And I’m connected to my animals and to all life on earth. How much more connected can I get? I am directly linked into the physical universe, made of atoms manufactured in stars, and I am an integral part of the family of all life, cousin to everything that lives. I’m not alone, not isolated, and not afraid of death.

I won’t know that after I die, of course: I won’t know anything. But I know it now, and that’s what counts.

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Re: Memorial for RBH

Postby stcordova » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:24 am ... ent-209421

RBH [last comment at TSZ December 20, 2015]:
And then there’s this, from a 35-year old dying of breast cancer:

Read the rest at the link.

In memorial of RBH:

Richard “Dick” Hoppe, a former member of the Kenyon psychology faculty and an affiliated scholar in biology at the College, died on Wednesday, January 3, 2018. He was 76 and a resident of Mount Vernon’s Country Court Nursing Home.

A native of Minnesota, born on May 19, 1941, Hoppe served in the U.S. Navy as a Polaris autopilot technician from August 1960 to August 1964. He then entered the University of Minnesota, where he received a B.A. in anthropology and psychology in 1968 before going on to earn a Ph.D. in experimental psychology there in 1972.

Hoppe joined the Kenyon faculty in 1971 as an assistant professor of psychology. In the summer of 1972, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Research in Human Learning. He won promotion to associate professor in 1978 and full professor in 1989.

“I considered Dick to be a best friend both as a colleague and socially,” says Charles “Chuck” Rice, professor emeritus of psychology. “Professionally, he was brilliant in his field — so much so that he created an innovative mathematically based investment strategy for trading international currency. The technique was so attractive that he eventually decided to give up his tenured position at the College to engage in full-time investing with a group of Kenyon graduates active in that field.

“Dick did not, however, give up his service to the College Township Fire Department,” Rice emphasizes. “He continued to contribute his time and energy to protect his community. Even after he retired from professional activity, he continued to donate his abilities to community service in a number of ways.”

Linda Smolak, professor emerita of psychology and the College’s civil rights compliance assessor, remembers, “When I arrived at Kenyon, my office was next door to Dick’s. His intensity and strong opinions, often accompanied by some tai chi movements, initially seemed a bit intimidating. But I quickly learned that his sometimes gruff exterior could not hide his wry sense of humor, his commitment to our students, and his devotion to his wife, Kay. It also couldn’t conceal his willingness to help. Dick was always willing to talk through a problem or a concern. Even when we disagreed, he had a generous spirit.

“Dick also brought a different perspective to teaching,” Smolak adds. “He had been in the Navy and had worked in industry before coming to the College. Those life experiences informed his teaching. His ‘Industrial/Organizational Psychology’ class was a favorite with our students for its substantial real-life applications.

“Even after leaving the department to pursue his other interests, Dick was always ready to talk about psychology, investments and even horses. He continued to work with Kenyon students on their business ventures. He was a problem-solver, a person of deep intellectual curiosity in a variety of areas, and a dedicated member of the community.

Hoppe was widely published in professional journals, with articles on subjects ranging from parapsychology to statistics, from aircraft control designs to the battles between creationism and evolution in the nation’s schools. Active in campus governance, he had served as chair of the faculty, chair of the psychology department, chair of the Social Infractions Division of the Judicial Board, and as a member of numerous other committees and councils.

“I remember Dick as someone who had an extraordinarily varied and rich life before he came to Kenyon,” says Fred Baumann, professor of political science. “He was the only non-Native American founder of the American Indian Movement, a Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party operative, a missile engineer on submarines, a sculptor, a poet. And I remember him as a brave man willing to stand up for real education, whether that meant taking on creationists in Mount Vernon or those who wanted to politicize education at the College.”

Hoppe left Kenyon after the 1990-91 academic year to become a freelance consultant specializing in artificial intelligence for market modeling. He joined IntelliTrade in 1993 as a principal with expertise in derivatives trading and risk-estimation consulting. He later returned to the classroom as a visiting faculty member in the biology department.

Both during and after his time on the faculty, Hoppe was a mainstay of several volunteer organizations in Gambier and elsewhere in Knox County. First among these was the College Township Fire Department, with which he worked for more than 35 years. He was also a former president of the board of Knox-New Hope Industries, co-coordinator of the Knox County Technical Rescue Team, and a six-year member of the Knox County Adolescent Suicide Prevention Task Force, for which he won the 1985 volunteer-of-the-year award from the Knox County Mental Health Association.

In June 2016, Dick was recognized with the President’s Volunteer Service Award for his work with senior citizens living in long-term-care facilities. He traveled to area nursing homes to ensure that residents were visited quarterly, and he assisted with complaint resolutions.

Hays Stone ’99, who retired from the College’s Office of Public Affairs, recalls that Hoppe called bingo for years for the Knox County Humane Society, where she also volunteers, until his declining health made it impossible. He had also been a scuba instructor.

Hoppe is survived by his wife, Kay, a retired teacher in the Mount Vernon City School District.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Knox County Humane Society, 400 Columbus Road, Mount Vernon, Ohio 43050. A memorial service will be scheduled and announced at a later date. ... ard-hoppe/ ... es-0018682
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