When I was a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, my English Major adviser was the great Don Gregory.

Don died a week ago today and the news of his passing is wounding and saddening:

Donald L. Gregory, 71, Lincoln, died on Friday (7-17-09). Donald was born 1/20/1938 in Newark, Ohio to Mike and Thelma (Horner) Gregory. Director of General Studies at UNL from 1987 until his death. Donald’s department received five National and five All-University awards. Professor of English Literature at UNL from 1967-1992. PhD from Ohio State 1967; MA from Ohio State 1962; Graduate Assistant from 1960-1967; BA from Bucknell University, 1960. Attended all grade levels and graduated from Granville High School, Granville, Ohio. He was a fan of sports car racing and attending SCCA auto cross events with his sons.

Dr. Gregory was always kind and forever patient.  I can’t remember an instance when I ever heard him raise his voice in anger or lose patience with a student or colleague.

Don Gregory taught me how to be precise and prescient and to indulge every intellectual whim — even if I didn’t know if the end result would be worth welcoming.

When I was pressed into indecision about graduate schools, it was Don’s kind hand and massive heart that led me through the thickets and into a Presidential Scholarship at Columbia University in the City of New York.

Without Don Gregory watching my back and tending my emotional welfare and cajoling my human indifference, I would still be staked in Lincoln, Nebraska wondering what might have been or what I could have become.

Thanks to Don Gregory, I found my life and discovered my calling and that, I now realize, is a debt that cannot ever be repaid — it can only be forwarded upward by trying to give the golden touch to my students that Donald L. Gregory was so kind to gift to me.