Beginning in 1986, Spanish professor Galo Gonzalez brought unique power and light to Macau. He was known for his love of poetry, literature, and dance. When you hear the noise and music in the classroom in a human building, you know that his room is always in class.
Last November, Gonzalez passed cancer after teaching his final lesson in the first module of the last harvest semester. This week, almost a year later – and one day after his 72nd birthday – the Spanish and Portuguese departments celebrated his life with music, poetry and fairy tales.
During his more than 30 years in college, Gonzalez’s energy, enthusiasm, and compassion shaped his department and the students who came through it. When Gonzalez was chairman, Professor Molly Olsen He came to McElles in 2006. “Since then, he has been central to the Spanish program,” she said.
“He was the center of our department’s ethics,” said Olson. He was still there, even when he was sick and sometimes absent.
This week’s long-awaited farewell to Gonzalez has been long overdue. Gonzalez said the department had to wait until the vaccines and COVID-19 status could be found in food and music.
Many professors remember Gonzalez as their first friend at the college. According to his colleagues who met him for the first time, he was separated from his daily routine.
During her first days as a visiting teacher in the Spanish Department, Professor Claudia Gianni met with Gonzalez in Macau.
“He invited me to his office. He was the only one who did that, ”said Gianini. I was very young, but he was a great teacher. And I was amazed that he spent more than an hour with me, asking me what I liked and telling me about his lessons.
A quick greeting with Gonzalez usually lasts for an hour. He was always curious, and he had the ability to attract people to his immediate conversations. Meetings with him ranged from his stories to poetry discussions, and stories about dogs, snakes, rabbits, and parrots’ housework.
For those of you who are accustomed to a time-bound schedule for coworkers and students, talking to Gonzalez was an exciting change.
“He lived at a different time,” says Gianini. “Time was not linear for him, it was like a circle. It made him stay longer. ”
Although he was a professor in the Spanish department, Gonzalez was well-known for his work and thought on campus. During his stay in McAlster, he served on a number of advisory and employment committees in various departments. He also helped create the American Studies Department. This week’s event paid tribute to his popularity on campus – attendees crossed departments and offices to celebrate his life.
“I was in a trance,” says Gianni. He was eager to learn about the world and to share it with his students, to share it with his colleagues, to share his time, his knowledge, his wisdom.
Gonzalez did not always go to academia. Early in his life, he dreamed of becoming a priest. When he moved to Berkeley, that plan fell through, and he decided to pursue a career in literature and education instead. At McAlster, he taught a class of erotic poems that he wrote and studied, from language lessons to writing.
His generosity and desire to teach made Gonzalez a popular professor. Many of his former students came to the campus to talk about his kindness and his constant encouragement as a counselor.
“Professor Gallo brought joy to my studies, and the winter days were very dark,” said May Sullivan 22. I always appreciate his kindness. ”
Theresa Professor of Spain When she first arrived in McAlster in 2006, she taught a class with Gonzalez, and they reunited with her in the summer of 2020 while adjusting their distance learning courses. She saw the commitment he made to the students.
“One of the most important things I learned from him was his generosity with his students,” Mesa said. He was diligent in his studies, even in his youth. The stories we share, and about education, changes, problems, challenges with children, relationships – I will definitely keep that with me.
Giannini received a collection of letters from students last year when they were nominated for a teacher award. A.D. She was surprised by his response when she won the McAlster Thomas Jefferson Award in 2018 to teach.
I remember Ginny saying, “I learned better than I did.” He was very humble.
Gonzalez brought that humble and conciliatory approach to the McLales Spanish program – traits that keep the department alive.
“There is before and after the gallon,” said Mesa. Most of us agree.