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In Memoriam

Robert Kane taught at Harley from 2003 to 2014 and was the founder of our Hospice program. Bob received an NAIS Leading Edge Award for his secondary school hospice curricula at The Norman Howard School, and he also developed hospice programs at Mercy High School and The Grammar School in Sligo, Ireland. Bob’s programs are internationally recognized, featured in print and media, as well as in the 2013 award-winning documentary film Beginning With the End, by Ashley Sands O’Winter ’07. Bob studied film at the University of Southern California and graduated from Middlebury College. He worked in corporate sales, traveling frequently to Europe, South America, and Asia, and also worked in the film industry. He eventually returned home to Sodus, New York and trained to work on an ambulance team as an EMT, before he got his teaching degree. From former faculty, Michael Brown: I was saddened to read of Bob [Kane]’s death, which caused me to reflect upon how much of his work had been a sustained intellectual, emotional, and practical encounter with mortality. In 2007, I sat in on Bob’s hospice course and explored with him and his students a variety of medical, literary, public policy, religious, psychological, and philosophical perspectives on death and dying. This learning was never abstract, for there was a hospital bed in the room and we practiced changing the linens with a person—in the classroom, it was a dummy—in it. I remember thinking that students would be applying those skills to people they had just met later that same evening, in the volunteer hospice-care shifts that were an essential part of Bob’s course. Bob taught Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich —the profound account of a man wrenched from his busy bourgeois concerns by the onset of illness and dying. In the end, Tolstoy leads readers to believe that Ivan has found some meaning to his life that cannot be extinguished by death. I like to think that Bob knew how many of us carry his presence in our lives, and I hope that in this knowledge he had a firm sense of the meaning Tolstoy describes.
Bob wrote later in life: “… as I continue my life review without any chapel script in mind, I listen to music of long ago and think of Kolkata, of a woman who lived alone in squalor next to a very active railroad track. I would pass her small dwelling made from garbage each day as I made my way to the burning Ghats where the dead were cremated in open fires.One day our eyes met and she invited me in to her dwelling. She was dressed in a dirty sari and she humbly made room for me. As I sat with this “untouchable” who spoke only Bengali, she put more charcoal on her little fire and began to boil water. She proudly produced her used tea to re-boil. But, for me, she produced the last bit of fresh tea and made my cup from that last treasured bit of gold—all she had. We sat and shared a moment together and then I moved on, never to see her again. She asked nothing of me—indeed my presence and my willingness to share a cup of tea with her brought her great joy. She could be of service —her life had a moment of compassionate meaning. And her tear-filled eyes touched me so very deeply. I was touched by and touched what truly is the untouchable. She was and continues to be the richest person I have ever known.”

 

 

David O’Neal ’49

Lydia Gray ’50

Dorothy McMannis Kaelber ’50

James Weil ’50

Richard Feldman ’52

Marilyn Bratt Kirkwood ’52

John Williams ’52

Judson Patterson ’53

Lester Eber ’55

Peter Koret ’77

Carter Thomas ’94

Former Faculty

Peggy Bradley (LS 1966 to 1974)

 

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