Today's Monday Mourning is from Barbara Uechi. She shared with me about the nomadic professor Armand Singer. She says:
Armand Singer was born on November 30, 1914 and had lived an incredibly productive and well-traveled life by the time I first met him. He was then in his early 70's and had flown to Kona with his wife Mary, to visit their daughter Ann. Annie was about to marry the man known as the Director of Fun, within our gregarious circle of friends. Tomas Hill was soon to be wed and we were all afraid that our loud and obnoxious gatherings would be gone with just two words: "I do".
Armand had a firm handshake and Mary, a very soft and sweet smile. They were both retired college professors and I remember saying to myself as we were introduced, "Guess we won't be discussing the last Mork & Mindy episode!" We all loved Tomas enough to try to make a good impression.
Tomas and Annie got married, as did the rest of our merry-making friends. Life slowly disbanded us as we propagated our own family circles. The Hills eventually moved and settled in northern California and my only contact with Armand and Mary came through Annie. It soon became obvious that Armand was not your average retiree. Tales of his trip to Antarctica, his published book of limericks, mountain climbing and more, reached us even as Armand advanced in years.
By the time I opened the Kona Yoga studio, Armand was in his late eighties and productive as ever. I could not resist sharing his inspiring adventures in my classes and to those on my massage table who blamed their age for their loss of freedom; physical or mental. In fact, I spoke of Armand so often that I thought it was time to tell even more people about him. I asked Annie to get his permission and that, was the beginning of Where's Armand?
It was also the start of one of the most delightfully rich friendships I've ever had. Armand was a wealth of knowledge, experience and opinions, but you couldn't access it as quickly as with Google. In fact, I employed Google when Armand and I had phone conversations just to keep up with him. Conversations with Armand took a circuitous route and every side trip, was as amazing as the last. He rarely, if ever, repeated himself but the new tales corroborated the old ones. A feat not mastered by anyone else that I know.
In July of 2007, Armand had to have some repairs made to his colon and the two surgeries he had took their toll on other organs as well. After many heroic and painful weeks, he chose not to prolong the inevitable and died on July 12.
The more I read about Armand, the more amazed I became at not just the length of his life but the width and the depth. Here's just a few other bits I dug up about Armand:
Armand chose the teaching of romance languages as a career and received an A.B. from Amherst College in 1935, an M.A. from Duke University in 1939, and a Ph.D. from Duke University in 1944. He instructed French and Spanish at West Virginia University for 40 years, beginning in 1940 as a teaching fellow and retiring in 1980 as a professor emeritus.
He was considered an authority on Don Juan. He has numerous publications on this topic; the first, A Bibliography of the Don Juan Theme: Versions and Criticism, appeared in 1954 with an updated volume appearing in 2003.
His lifelong activities included trips to the North and South Poles and visits to virtually every country on the face of the earth. An avid hiker, Armand hiked the Grand Canyon 15 times, the last time at the age of 87. He attempted a 16th time at the age of 91 with his daughter, but stopped when common sense took over. He also loved driving across country, something that he did every two years since the 1930s.
Armand's interests ranged from skydiving to jazz to limericks. There's even mention that he recited some of "the dirtiest limericks in the history of the style--- while pausing only to giggle between each one."
I could not imagine a better beginning to Monday Mournings than Armand Singer. Thank you Barbara!