Remembering Allan Gotthelf
I was saddened to read of the passing of Professor Emeritus Allan Gotthelf (“In Memoriam,” Winter 2013). Of my innumerable experiences as a student at the College from 1984 to 1989, Philosophy 101 continues to remain forefront in my memory. On the first day of class we were instructed by our professor, “Call me Allan.” Some students snickered, but I was thankful for the opportunity to address a teacher as an equal for the first time.
One day during class, Allan caught me daydreaming, looking out the window on a sunny day. Off in the distance I heard, “What do you think, Janine?” I had to reply, “I’m sorry, could you repeat the question?” The question was, and I paraphrase, “Do you think that our future is determined by fate, or that the path our lives take is determined by the decisions we make for ourselves?” This was such a profound question, and one that I had never contemplated. I answered quickly that I believed we could guide our own destiny based on the decisions we make for ourselves.
Through our analysis of the lyrics of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” and the reading and discussions of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, I was taught to consider the most important life lesson of all—discover who you are and decide who you want to be.
Thank you, Allan.
Janine (Furchak) Tempone ’89
As an engineering major, I first met Allan in the spring of 1973 when I took a philosophy survey course with him. Classes were held in Bliss Hall, which was formerly a men’s dorm that was converted to classrooms and offices that housed the criminal justice and philosophy departments. When Allan mentioned that he was Ayn Rand’s biographer, I took an interest in his non-credit Students of Objectivism class. Having read Atlas Shrugged while in high school, I found his seminars on Rand to be very interesting and compelling. Rand’s is an interesting philosophy, but I don’t agree with it.
One other interesting thing about Allan was his car. It was either an Oldsmobile Cutlass or Buick Riviera, but I remember that it had the optional swivel driver’s seat that turned when you opened the driver’s side door to allow easier egress.
Allan was soft-spoken and knew his material. I had the honor to proctor one or two exams for him during finals week. I was saddened to learn of his passing.
Bob Schroeder ’78