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Goodbye to a friend

My last year of law school I took a class on politics. Thoroughly bored with the law, I wanted to spend time in a class where I would enjoy the material. An adjunct professor, Peter Schalestock, taught the course since he had extensive experience in politics.

The very last class of the semester I had a presentation to give so I didn’t read the assigned material figuring I wouldn’t get called on. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. Instead of looking away while Peter was searching for someone to discuss the material, I looked directly at him. And then he called on me.

Rather than try to bullshit my way through an answer, I said, “I’m not going to lie, I didn’t read for class.”

He responded, “But you looked like you had something to say.”

“Oh, I always have something to say. It’s just not always relevant.” The entire class laughed, including Peter.

After the class was over, he and I got to talking. For an hour in the entrance to the law school. Six months later, he was at the campus bookstore while I was working in the office next door. I ran out to say hi. At the end of the conversation, he handed me his business card and said, “Now you can prove to your friends that you know a Republican.” I got a good laugh at that.

Eventually I did email him and we started hanging out. He was swamped that election season. He was an election law expert and there were tough contests across the country. Surprisingly he spent a good deal of time in Montana. I asked him why that was, since there were probably more moose than people there. That became a running joke for us and that year for Christmas we exchanged moose gifts. He got a stuffed moose from me and I got a moose shot glass from him that I still have.

Not long after he moved to the East Coast for work, but we stayed in touch. I got a RUDY card from him for my law school graduation (he worked on the campaign until it imploded). When he visited Seattle we got together.

I was sort of floundering my last year of law school. I knew the law wasn’t really for me, but worried about that since I’d spent three years getting the degree. He assured me that there were other things I could do with myself and that it was okay, even normal, for me not to want the lifestyle of a lawyer.

We stayed in touch through Facebook over the years, exchanging messages here and there.

I found out today that he passed away yesterday. He’d had a long battle with his heart, and it seems that it finally gave out.

The world lost a great man with his passing. He was genuinely kind-hearted, brilliant, and funny. I will miss him greatly. In honor of our friendship, I bought myself a new necklace. When I wear it, it will hang close to my heart.

 

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