On the Road with Roy

Contributed By Rosemary Jann


As a neighbor of Roy’s as well as a friend and colleague, I had many occasions to carpool with him over the last fifteen years. I came to understand that it was Roy’s gregarious nature as much as any environmental consciousness that led him to avoid riding alone. A commute with Roy always meant the better part of a conversation-filled hour covering a long menu of topics du jour. He’d slide in the door in a diffident way, and then he was off and running. Sometimes the issues were local--the in’s and out’s of campus politics or his most recent battles with the forces of bureaucracy. More often they reached beyond, into teaching, research, the profession. Riding with Roy meant tapping into a vast network of information and institutional savvy. It was like being part of a rolling salon.

When Roy was behind the wheel, I can’t say we got there fast, and there was at times an absent-minded professor quality to his driving: ideas were always more interesting to him than traffic conditions. But the trip was never dull, and we did get there safely and usually on time. And the conversation was always stamped by Roy’s trademark virtues: the wide scope of his intellectual inquisitiveness, his ability to cut through the haze of circumstance to fundamental issues of power and responsibility, and his wry sense of humor in the face of institutional and other frustrations.

Thanks, Roy, for reminding me so often that life is about the journey, not the destination.