We invite you to celebrate Geno with us.
A chance to share your thoughts and stories, a chance to support a way of learning that captures Gene Melander’s sense of imagination and possibility, and evolving plans for some celebrations of his exquisite heart and mind.
By way of invitation, a note he wrote to his family in 2012, about the power of conversations, ideas, and most importantly, love:
This I believe: Each of us is engaged in two very important ongoing conversations as we live out our lives; One, the primary conversation, is the one we hold with ourselves around the clock each day, trying to figure out who we are as subjective individuals, what gives meaning and how we pursue it. But the second kind of conversation for each us are the ones we hold with others, that brings other–therefore, objective–perspectives about what has meaning into play and fuels the inner conversation of all the participants and empowers their individual capacities for positive change and growth. These conversations within and between the subjective self and the objective other are what living a meaningful life is all about.
So, putting our family conversations into that framework, I find my inner conversation greatly stimulated. And I very grateful. Just as one’s inner conversation is seldom structured as it wanders about through different realms of awareness, the shared conversation is wonderfully suggestive of the diversity and vastness of where meaning lies. Okay, personal philosophy 101, is over.
But “thank you” to each of you for making our family life meaningful; our conversations are important, yes, vital, to me–this I believe, this I feel, this I know. Not incidentally, it’s what love is all about–caring and sharing.
Geno loved stories. Please feel free to share your stories, your memories of him, things that inspire your imagination. And bad jokes, of course. You can share them by clicking on the “new entry” button below. Thank you!
Geno’s ticket to college was the GI Bill. After a stint in the Army, he returned to Minneapolis and studied General Business, a choice of pragmatism, not of the heart. It was the boredom of working at Pillsbury as an accountant and the dire threat of moving to Enid, Oklahoma with an impending promotion that drove him to return to the University of Minnesota for his Masters in Economics and Ph.D. in Economics and Statistics. It was a liberation. His gratitude for what education gave him fueled his 39 years at Penn State as a teacher, an administrator, but most of all, an advocate for students.
The values that Geno held most dear—for learning, community, and personal growth—were at the heart of his academic career. He was a driving force in founding the Bachelor of Philosophy Program and the Honors College at Penn State. He was also, understandably, committed to those values as they related to the educational experiences of his family. As we have thought about an appropriate way to remember him, we have decided to establish the Gene Melander Fund for the Delta Program through the Centre Foundation. Delta is a democratic school in the State College Area School District which serves both middle and high school students. It’s a wonderful place where students, parents, and teachers develop personalized learning within a shared sense of community. Gene’s daughter Leigh was a student at Delta’s precursor, the Alternative Program, and two of his beloved granddaughters, Rosie and Merryn, attend Delta. Our hope is that this fund will continue Gene’s positive influence in learners’ lives for years to come.
If you would like to join us, you can donate here. Thank you.
An elegant subversive, and a self-effacing Midwesterner, Geno had no desire for either a funeral or a traditional memorial service. He did, however, love celebrations, and loved creating opportunities for people to engage in play. He was the vastly-entertained (and entertaining) host of a series of fetes celebrating food, delight, silliness, and open-ended chances to imagine.
So, we are dreaming up events that would please him, and are turning to a recent source of delight as inspiration.
After a horrible one-day music career as a nine-year-old that ended up with a conductor breaking his baton over the head of a kid who didn’t know you were supposed to have learned how to play the trumpet before you went to band camp, Geno spent a lifetime loving music as an audience member.
A few weeks ago, Geno decided that he wanted to learn to play the cello. His friend Brian suggested that he just learn one note – how to draw the bow across the strings and let the music reverberate through him. It could be an opening into meditating on the sound, feel, and possibilities of music. He was enchanted. (And of course he and Jackie quickly decided that their international performing tour was in the offing.)
In this spirit, we’re in the process of planning gatherings to invite friends come and explore the magic of the one note. We will keep you posted on when plans are confirmed!
A poem from Brian Bastress, on the power of the one note…
One Note King
Open third string
Rosin dust on the floor
The world it will bring
It will open that door
The grain of her wood
The smell of her past
One note understood
His mind stays fast
One note among many
So many to choose
Regrets, there aren’t any
There is nothing to lose
He plays her again
That open D sound
It’s like an old friend
Someone he’s found
Suppose that he knew
What joy it would bring
To only a few
That One Note King
Some of the ideas that capture Geno’s interests and delights.
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