One Devoted Professor
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by Frank Shortt
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It is much better to give a person a rose while they yet live than all the flowers presented at ones death! Here is a rose to my creative
One could not call Professor Sterling Warner an ordinary man. When one looked at him for the first time you would
be reminded of the time in history when things went topsy-turvy for a while. This would have been in the 1960's and 70's when the
flower children were in full bloom. San Francisco, as well as, many major cities began seeing a change in the way that younger people
viewed society as a whole. Creative juices were flowing and many poets and writers began thinking in terms of a capitalist society
as being a little mixed up in their view of what is best for their fellow man.
I met Sterling at a local bakery/café and one might
say we became friends at first encounter. As we discussed literature, I am sure he could see that I was an enthusiast who could bear
honing my writing skills. He invited me to join his latest class of creative writing that had just begun. I took him up on the invitation
and it was one of the best decisions I have made in life.
Upon entering his class I was greeted by Sterling with one of his many,
considered outlandish by some, a tie bearing the figure of a cartoon character. Each day thereafter he wore one with a different effigy,
which had become his trademark image. Had I not been a person who had encountered many unusual characters in my time, I would probably
have turned and walked out of the classroom. It turned out that his class was full of unusual characters, including one young transsexual
character who spent most of the time daubing on make-up to characterize whatever person he/she chose to be that day. I am sure that
a 70 year old white man with a slight southern accent was unusual to the whole class as well. It also turned out to be one of the
most interesting times of my old existence!
As Sterling would begin the class, his first move was to check to see who had showed up
that day. He then began explaining the purpose of the class and to point out some points of interest that would benefit each of us
there during the semester. We were required to take notes for reference in the future, and the instructions were short and to the
point as to what would be covered in the next day or two. We were then given a writing assignment, to be turned in a couple of days
later, reflecting what had been discussed in the class. Our first attempts were awkward, to say the least. Through all our problems
adjusting to the class, Sterling was most patient and understanding. I was surprised that the young students were quite taken with
my homespun stories of when I was growing up in the Virginia hills. Once in a while, Sterling would have business outside the classroom
and he would turn the class over to me. The forward-thinking students began warming up to me as they saw I was not a threat to them.
Aside from teaching English, Literature, and several other topics, Sterling was the one who brought color to the campus. He would
invited famous writers to his workshops, he conducted the Poetry Festival each year, and also the Scottish Festival once a year. These
festivals brought in some very colorful characters, dancers, and singers. I doubt that the campus has had as much excitement since
the departing of Sterling Warner. He was the one who kept things hopping at Evergreen College.
Sterling taught me the finer points
of writing. After taking his class I could not keep up with all my writing commitments. So did he totally retire since his 'retirement'
from teaching? I should say not! He continues to have books of poetry published and does some substitute teaching and consulting in
his local Washington State where he retired.
I am sure that everyone who had Sterling as a professor will have a lasting image of
him and will be able to use his expertise in their daily lives! I know that I have! His books of poetry many be had on Amazon.