I'm bummed because I just found out that one of my favorite English professors from the University of Maine, Welch Everman, died of lung cancer.
I'm also feeling like a bit of a jackass, since this happened back in September and I just found out today. If you're like me, you always mean to stay in touch with the teachers that had an effect on you, but it just doesn't always work out that way.
Anyway, Welch was a great teacher, as well as one of the coolest guys I've ever met. He had a great enthusiasm for both his subject and his students; you could tell he always had a ball at the front of the classroom, and that helped make any class you had with him a lot of fun. He had great interest in jazz, the Beat era, the 3 Stooges, horror, sci-fi and comic books, and often taught "Topics in Literature" courses on these very subjects (his occassional Stephen King class was one of the hottest tickets on campus, almost as popular as Human Sexuality).
I had the privilege of taking two of Welch's classes, one on Jack Kerouac and another on comics, and both rank among the best (and most entertaining) classes of my entire scholastic career. I think that's especially telling in the case of the comics class, which for some reason was held on Friday nights. It was a great experience, though, with a surprisingly large group of people that all really enjoyed talking comics with one another (it also helped that there was a long enough break in the middle of the class to run next door to the student union and split a pitcher of whatever beer was on tap for cheap that night at The Bear's Den).
Welch also served as Associate Dean of the English department for awhile, which not only gave him the clout to teach classes on stuff like horror movies, but also allowed him to help students whenever possible, which he really seemed to enjoy. He really saved my bacon toward the end of college, waiving a requirement or two for me that would've meant having to stay for an extra semester that I just would not have been able to afford. He just shrugged it off, saying "Hey, when you're a Dean, you can do fun stuff like this."
He had several books published, and if you're interested, I recommend the his movie guides, Cult Horror Films and Cult Science Fiction Films, and if you can find it, his short story collection entitled The Harry and Sylvia Stories. They're all decent reads.
So I feel like a jerk for not saying it sooner, but goodbye, Welch. You'll definitely be missed.