My close friend and colleague David Tyack died October 27. A brief summary of his career can be found here.
A few months ago a group of us gathered together to honor David with a luncheon and present him with nearly 30 letters written by former students and colleagues. David was touched deeply by those letters. Here is the one that I wrote.
February 8, 2016
How to sum up over forty years of knowing and loving you as a dear friend? I cannot do so easily. But I will try.
We began as adviser and advisee although only four years separated us in age when we first met in 1972. You made it possible for me to come to Stanford with Barbara, Sondra, and Janice to study with you for two years and get the Ph.D. that I needed to fulfill my dream of becoming a district superintendent. As we stayed in touch and visited one another while I served in Arlington for seven years, that relationship slowly matured into a friendship.
I returned to Stanford in 1981 to teach and write. Ever since then, we have biked up and down Bay Area mountains and taken long rides to Monterey, Big Sur, and even to San Luis Obispo. From you, I have learned so much about the Bay area in our walks and bike trips. Your love of the outdoors rubbed off on me as you introduced me to places I had never known. Walking up Mt. Tamalpais seeking a lemonade stand so I could take a break; biking over to Gazos Creek, a beach and dunes that you adored. Also, I noted over the years that sweet, humble Dave could be fiercely competitive; I remember you racing up the last 200 yards of Mt. Diablo on your bike to beat those hikers who challenged us as we slowly chugged up the mountain. From all of these outdoor experiences, I came to see, as you did, what a special place we live in.
Our friendship flourished in-doors as well. We have team-taught a course on the history of school reform. We learned a great deal about teaching and history from one another in teaching twice a week for ten years. And we collaborated in writing Tinkering toward Utopia, a most satisfying experience that I will never forget. Both teaching and writing drew us closer together intellectually and made those weekly bike rides a combination of stretching one’s mind and body.
Moreover, as colleagues I came to see up close how gentle and firm you could be with students. I admired and respected how you shepherded them through their dissertations and orals. Most of all, I treasured the humaneness you expressed and displayed in small and big ways with students, friends, and colleagues year after year.
You are a rare kind of academic, Dave, one whose research, teaching, and advising were wrapped up in smarts, humility and a sensitive thoughtfulness that was (and is) uncommon among those who work in universities. You set a high standard for all of us in how you lived your life, nurtured ideas, and practiced your craft. I am so grateful for having worked closely with you for these many years.
You gave me a gift when you invited me to come to Stanford over four decades ago of not only a second career in academia but also a friendship that I treasure now and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.