Perhaps you have noticed that obituaries always include the final paragraph that reads "Mr.___ was preceded in death by . . ." followed by the sentence that says "Survivors include . . . "
A really good friend of 40 years, my golf buddy, and former colleague died on November 12. Campbell Witherspoon, Jr. was a gentle soul who loved life, people, conversation, and most of all, education. Through the many years he worked at various districts, Cam was a coach, teacher, headmaster, department head, assistant principal, principal, curriculum coordinator, gifted and talented coordinator. He was also a mentor to scores of new teachers and a caring adult and great role model to thousands of students.
Sadly, in his obituary, the teachers and former students are not listed as his survivors, because they are not his kin. But when I reflect upon his life as an educator (we were colleagues for 25 of those years), indeed, he was a different kind of relative. Cam was like a brother to some, a father to others, and near the end of his career, a wise grandfather to many. He taught all the things he learned that somehow don't seem as important in today's date-driven school atmosphere of teaching to the test. He taught manners and caring; empathy and responsibility; perseverance and self-discipline.Cam encouraged his students and set high expectations for them. His nurturing personality turned around many students who needed a caring teacher in their lives. Cam's modeled gentlemanly and appropriate behaviors for students every day of his life. Because Cam was born during the Great Depression, he had great appreciation for all that he had, and he expressed his appreciation freely, forcing others to reconsider gratitude over entitlement. His cheerful demeanor and gentleness, along with his love for people and conversation, made him a friend to so many, and a favorite teacher to many more. We were great friends, and through the years, Cam and I and my late husband had hundreds of meals together and played countless rounds of golf together. Cam and I ate out for Thanksgiving dinner together for the past 5 years since Scott died. I will miss him terribly this Thanksgiving Thursday.
Campbell Witherspoon, Jr. leaves thousands of survivors behind, former students, colleagues, and friends, and each person if richer by far for knowing him. His influence will continue through eternity. God speed, Cam.
To read more about Cam's accomplishments and life, here is the link to his obituary:
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
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Dede and Cam - Christmas party, 1990, enjoying a laugh
Cam and Dede, Thanksgiving, 2015
Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school. if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom. www.Fieldtripzoom.com GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit http://www.theauthorszone.com/submissions/
Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required reading. Signed copies are available www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics.
I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired!
Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom. Check them out! http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/
Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book. I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading. Please email me at email@example.com The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
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