I heard the news today that my academic advisor at UNC Asheville, Rick Maas, passed away.
photo by mefford williams
Dr. Maas or "Big Rick", as a result of being my advisor, taught over 17 hours of class and labs of my major. Enough time together in small, pollution control specific courses that we could play off each other, laugh, and joke our way completely off topic. I watched, Rick might argue that I led him, as he backed the van and trailer into a fence at campus. Dr. Maas told me that he would rather jump off the cliff into Wolf Lake during our Limnology Lab before me, because "It's best not to think too much about it." My last day of school, he handed me a note and a hug, "...Your humor, joy, playfullness and overall positive energy is a tremendous gift to this world. I feel honored to have been able to share these with you...(I think that you realize how much we have in common in this regard, even though I sometimes have to act a little more serious/mature/responsible than I really am inside.)" I couldn't have described you better, Dr. Maas.
I miss you already. I just can't believe you're not around anymore. I keep expecting to walk upstairs into Rhodes Robinson, across the breezeway, look in your always open office door, to see your feet on the desk, phone to ear, free hand waving or holding a half eaten sandwich.
That's the Man, in the middle, white shirt, and smiling: