Saying goodbye to my mentor: Reflections on Charlie Seashore
The news of Charlie's death a few weeks ago was tough enough to process. As a friend, colleague and my former dissertation chairman at Fielding, we had just spoken several weeks prior. Then to hear the news of Edie's death on two days ago was mind boggling. Immediately after hearing of Charlie's death, I pulled out
my bound dissertation, looked at the signature page and and thought about standing on the podium in Santa Barbara in 2009 as Charlie welcomed me to the academy of scholars with the phrase "I present Dr. Kevin Nourse."
In 2009 while working on the data analysis for my dissertation at Fielding, I would drive up every few weeks to Columbia Maryland from DC to review my data with Charlie. On this particular visit, Charlie and I spent a couple hours in his study exploring the coding of my interview data. I brought a large monitor to attach to my laptop to make the analysis more visible. Charlie gave me such grief about this - claiming that with each visit I made during this phase the monitor I brought grew larger and larger. While we were neck deep in our conversation, Edie announced that dinner was ready. The three of us sat at their kitchen table eating broiled fish and talking about life, politics and my dissertation. It was such an ordinary event that I never thought would have so much meaning for me.
I found myself in the past few days wishing I had done this more often. They both possessed such wisdom and experience. Rock stars in the organization development field. So now I begin the process of reviewing old emails from those years focused on the dissertation, searching for communications from Charlie and hoping to find new pearls of wisdom he imparted to me that I had forgotten. It reminds me of when my mom died in 1996 and I spent months reviewing every letter or card I received from her - savoring the memories, mining the communication for insights about her, holding each correspondence and tracing her handwriting. In many ways, Charlie and Edie were far more than just professional or scholarly colleagues. They were the parents that many of us wished we had - opening their home and relationship hundreds of us. They were going to live forever, or so I hoped. Yet, as I face challenges in my own professional practice and hear myself asking how Edie or Charlie would handle a situation like this, it occurs to me that despite their physical transition, they will continue to be my mentor and guide.
© 2014 Kevin Nourse, PhD