More than 100 people made it to the Bruce Chapel at the University of Houston yesterday afternoon, during the work day, for a memorial tribute to George. It was, in an odd way, a happy occasion, a welcome opportunity for many of the guests to get together for something other than a protest. The happiness was tempered more than a little bit by the shocking news of the devastating fire at Notre-Dame de Paris.
Memorial services have multiple purposes benefiting the bereft, but one purpose other than collective grieving that get little mention is opportunity to learn more about the life and works of the deceased. In George's case, those who have known him for any length of time know that he was a professor physics, but we might not know (and George was not the type to bend one's ear about it) the importance of his research or his unusual but effective teaching style.
Also, despite knowing George for just north of two decades, I had never known until yesterday what a demon he was at tennis and racketball. He may have urged and fostered cooperation toward achieving peace, harmony, and justice, but on the court he was all about the competition. Is this a contradiction or inconsistency in his personality? Others may see it that way, but no, not really. His colleagues who described his competitive streak hastened to emphasize that it helped his doubles partners and opponents improve their game rather than abandoning any hope of beating him and quitting in despair.