John Gardner at Home

Memories from Sylvia Rich

Dear John,

Since I heard the news about your cancer returning, I have been thinking a lot about how glad I am that I visited in January of 2018 and got to come and see you in your new offices in All Souls. it was the first time I met you as no longer your student, and that was really special for me... even though I still felt like your student and probably always will.

There are so many different ways in which you enriched my life and improved my mind, John, and it would take too long to go through them all. But one of the moments that I think about is from the second year of DPhil, only a few months after you and I had started working together, to tell you that I was pregnant. And you said,

"Sylvia, I don't just want you to write a great DPhil. I want you to write a great DPhil in the context of a great life."

I was moved (I mean, I was probably also really hormonal and in a phase where I'd cry at a sappy commercial, but still). And I feel like it's illustrative of how you lived and how you instructed all of us. Think big huge thoughts without fear, and be a big full person who engages the world intellectually, politically, and culturally, and who also takes time for themselves and their family. Anyway that's what I got from you. I appreciated every single hour of supervision we ever had. I feel like you know that already, but it bears saying anyways.

With love, admiration and gratitude,