Viewpoint: Student remembers Mr. Paul Morrow

One of the old newspapers my sister Louise recently gave me had a wonderful letter to the editor of the Holtville Tribune, dated Sept. 7, 1995. The letter was a tribute to the late Paul Morrow, by one of his students, Daniel L. Everett. Mr. Morrow died in May 1995.

Everett was born in Holtville in 1951. His mother was a local waitress, and his father was an occasional cowboy, mechanic and construction worker.

Everett played in rock bands from the time he was eleven years old, until converting to Christianity at age 17. He was married at 18 to the daughter of missionaries.

According to Wikipedia, Everett served as Dean of Arts and Sciences at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Prior to Bentley University, Everett was Chair of the Dept. of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Illinois State University in Normal, Ill.

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Mr. Morrow taught science courses for more than twenty years at Holtville High School and left a lasting impression on many of his students. He was also valued by the community and was named Holtville’s Citizen of the Year in 1991. Here is part of the letter Mr. Everett wrote:

“To The Editor: Mr. Morrow now either has final proof of God or he does not. I suspect that he does and that he is continuing to learn about the universe at a faster pace than ever before.

“I know that I am one of hundreds of students that have been affected by the life and teaching of Paul Morrow. But his impact on my life has been so significant that, even though I only just found out about his death, I wanted to talk to him, to say how he affected my life — not just as a eulogy to him but perhaps as an encouragement to other Holtville teachers now struggling to motivate and educate apathetic, smart-alecky unextraordinary students like I was.

“I took a general introduction to science course from Mr. Morrow (it has never been possible for me just to call him “Paul;” I have always been too awed by him for that) my freshman year at Holtville High School in 1965. No teacher I had ever had until that time seemed as knowledgeable or ready to treat students so much like adults. The course was relatively easy for me and I ended the year with an ‘A’ and a good deal of respect and warmth for Mr. Morrow.

“But I had underestimated him. It was in fact during my sophomore year that Mr. Morrow had the biggest impact on my life, in the biology course. I was already starting to use drugs, visit Mexicali most weekends, and think that my knowledge of the world needed no help from people over thirty. Morrow’s class was, as far as I can remember, the only one I actually liked. His erudition (and that is still the best word for it) and his love for teaching still impressed me.

“The class went on frequent walks to learn the family, genera and species of plants in Holtville yards. I remember enjoying the walks and trying to stay at the back of the group. Morrow actually expected us to get working knowledge of plant classifications, inducing tension in some of us by calling on students to classify particular plants in situ. I paid no attention after it became clear that I was so far behind that it would take serious effort to catch up, so I have gone through life without this knowledge.

“In class he expected us to learn to identify animal bones, working mainly with cat skeletal (offering special credit, if I recall correctly, to students who would kill and skin small animals and bring in their bleached bones.)”

The letter to the editor from Daniel L. Everett about the wit and wisdom of Paul Morrow will be continued in next week’s column.

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