Remembering Professor Hazelrigg, part one
Story | Memories | Memories Part 2 | Eulogy | Reigelman tribute
RELEASED: Sept. 15, 2005
DANVILLE, KYDr. Charles Tabb Hazelrigg '37, who taught English at Centre College for 43 years, died Saturday, Sept. 3, 2005. He was 90. Here, in the first of two parts, his students, colleagues and friends remember his charm, courtesy and passion.
Dr. Hazelrigg was the reason that I love English literature. After obtaining a B.A. from Centre, he located a teaching position for me at Breathitt County High School in eastern Kentucky. I have many fond memories of Dr. H. teaching Shakespeare or reading passages from Bobby Burns, especially "Tam O Shanter."
From 1970-72, I served in the U.S. Army in Iran, where I learned to speak Farsi. I am now married to Carol Warren Williams. We have three wonderful children, all of whom continue to write poetry. I have a master's in English from the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D in folklore from Indiana University. I've been teaching English at Spartanburg Methodist College for the past 21 years.
Dr. Hazelrigg helped me to discover my personal passion for literature, and I will never forget his influence upon me. I was "a galley charged with forgetfulness . . . despairing of the port" (Sir Thomas Wyatt) until he brought my ship to shore. I owe my life and career to the "man with the million-dollar smile," Dr H. Those Centre students who were fortunate enough to know him were truly touched by an angel.
John R. Williams '69, Professor of English at Spartanburg Methodist College
My recollections of Dr. Hazelrigg:
his exams, and the exhaustion that followed writing one
his stories about Elizabeth Taylor at the Danville Country Club
his superb editorial suggestions, which I still invoke when I write
his mercy on my Young Hall boyfriend
his determination to deter me from medical school
I am certain that this dear man smiles down upon us from his post, miles above Tintern Abbey.
Heather Hoffmann '86, M.D.
I came to Centre in the fall of 1989, so I never experienced Dr Hazelrigg in the classroom. My recollection of him is from the summer of 1992. I was working on campus and liked to enjoy my lunches sitting on a bench outside.
One day, an older gentleman approached and sat down, laughing at my pink flip-flops. We shared several laughs and after that, whenever he saw me sitting outside, he'd join me for some light-hearted discussion.
He was a dear, kind man and is a part of one of the Centre memories I hold most dear.
Donna Corrine Bailey Sandusky '93
One of the things I remember is that whenever there was something in the local newspaper about a student, faculty member, administrator, etc., Hazelrigg would cut it out and send it, along with a note of congratulations, to the person in question. He did this for years.
Milton Scarborough, Professor of Philosophy and Religion
I was a freshman the first year Charlie taught at Centre but, by the luck of the draw, I had another professor for freshman English and he went into active Navy service the next year, so I was never privileged to benefit from his teaching. His future wife, Margie [Hedrick '43], was a junior and he had special permission from the dean to date her. My most vivid memory was watching the two of them dance. There were lots of dances here then and probably half the people attending simply stood and watched them dance. Some of us Centre males had ambitions to be able to duplicate Charlie's footwork, but none of us accomplished it. They were simply the best ballroom dancers I ever saw and I watched them at every opportunity for 50 years.
Bill Breeze '46, special assistant to the president for endowment
It is with great admiration of Charlie that I send you this. I first met Charlie when I was an employee of Joe Frankel. I worked in the men's department at the time. Every day about 10 a.m. Charlie would come in and ask me to call Mr. Frankel's office and let him know he was here and ready to have coffee at the "Old Goat's Club," as they referred to it. While waiting for Mr. Frankel to come down to the first floor, Charlie would take me by the hand and quote beautiful poetry to me. He always started with "My lovely Rita." No one could ever imagine how that made my day. No matter how I felt, when Charlie left I had a smile on my face. Sometimes it was so beautiful I would just stand and cry. He asked me why I was crying and I said, "Charlie, you have touched my inner soul with your beautiful words." Mrs. Hazelrigg would just say, "That's my Charlie!" Thank you Mrs. Hazelrigg!
Charlie and Mr. Frankel gave me an open invitation to the "Old Goat's Club," even though it was strictly for men. How sorry I am that I never accepted that invitation. Just imagine what I missed! The stories of the past I could have heard and learned from! I did hear quite a few, however just by lending an open ear and a heart full of enthusiasm to two of my most beloved friends.
Oh Charlie! How I will forever miss you! You were such a blessing to me!
With love and admiration, Rita Craig, textbook department
Before I joined the faculty at Centre, I knew about Charlie Hazelrigg. It so happened that my maternal grandparents, Stephen and Clyda Lander, lived in Winchester, Ky., when I was growing up. (My grandfather was a Centre graduate of '05 and the recipient of an honorary degree from Centre for his long service as a Prebyterian minister.) My family connection intersected with the family of Margie Hedrick, Charlie's beloved wife of 62 years, so I was alerted to Charlie's importance at Centre before I first saw the school during my interview in December, 1965.
When Truly and I actually moved to Danville, we found out quickly that Charlie was not only a professorial paragon as an English literature scholar and teacher, but also the campus standardbearer in professorial dress and ballroom dancing. (When I presided at one of his retirement dinners, I indicated that we knew he was slipping when he wore the same sports jacket to class twice in the same week.)
Although I did not teach in his academic program, or even in his humanities division, we soon became good friends. He had coached the tennis team for years, and now I did (as a faculty volunteer just as he had).
We both loved the St. Louis Cardinals. We shared political allegiances and involvement in efforts at bettering race relations in Danville and at Centre. We were avid followers of Centre teams.
He did proofreading and editorial advising on the litanies that I wrote for Centre baccalaureates and at least one of my books. He invited me to speak to groups at the First Christian Church, where he and Margie were pillars, and borrowed commentaries for his church school class presentations. He even welcomed me into the Saturday morning coffee group that included such Centre faculty stalwarts as Paul Cantrell, West Hill, Harold Hanson '55, Bill Owens and later Milton Reigelman and others of our younger faculty component. We even shared the opprobrium with which our friends rewarded our puns!
I also witnessed the courageous way in which he and Margie bore the nearly unbearable sorrow of Tabb's early death in the wreck.
And he was interested in our children! When I would show up at his den window with our youngest, Mary Faith, on my shoulders, he and Margie made a beeline to the front door to talk with Mary Faith and Marcia [Mount Shoop '91] (and maybe to me). When Mary Faith and Marcia heard that he had died, they recalled first that "Hazelrigg" always talked directly to them.
His teaching and his relationships with his students were his passion as well as his vocation. His wit and his wisdom, his precision and his (and your!) punctuality, and his concern that you be the best that you could be were his hallmarks. I still find it hard to believe that the "Scarlet Mackerel" (Valarie Ziegler '76 and Carolyn Clapp Behrendt '76), who played very imaginative pranks on Charlie as well as on Milton Scarborough and me, prevailed on me to enter Charlie's classroom during a final exam wearing a black academic gown, Mercury-style wings on my shoes, and a mask that covered my entire head to deliver a message to a friend of "the Mackerel" who was taking her last exam at Centre College. I always lived in mortal fear that he would learn that it was I who not only entered the room late but also violated the seriousness of his final exam.
Perhaps the most memorable to me of all the Hazelriggian virtues was the way he kept communicating his appreciation of me and to me, and I know that my experience was anything but unique. The notes about something that I or one of our children had accomplished, often including a clipping; the private, appreciative statements to me that always went beyond what I deserved; that way he responded to my visits as his declining health kept him more confined; his unique way of building the other person up so that one really wanted to become the person Charlie was describingthese were his greatest legacy to me. And always there was that witperhaps coupled with a loving insult. Even as his ability to keep up with the conversation among the three of us declined, he would invariably come up with a witty zinger that made the visit for Margie and me.
During the last visit I had with him in the hospital before he went home for the last time, the characteristic Charlie came through one last time. As if he knew that this might me his last chance to speak with me alone, he made it a point to voice his affection for me. When I responded that what he had said would put a spring in my step for a week, he responded, "A spring in your step, and it's only February." He was confused about the calendar (it was summertime), but he was right about the time in his life, and that quick wit was there even when his days were dwindling fast.
Eric Mount, Rodes Professor Emeritus of Religion
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