Posted by: gdevi | August 25, 2013

On a great teacher

If my semester didn’t start tomorrow, I would be in Grand Forks now. My teacher Bob Lewis is very very very critically ill and in hospice care; congestive heart failure with Lewy body dementia. My friends have been keeping me updated. I so want to see him. He is a great teacher, an excellent editor, excellent musician, a very funny man, and a fine human being. He was first introduced to me as the person who lived in the tallest building in Grand Forks. He lived in a tall apartment building on the south side. At English department get-togethers, Bob played guitar and sang. He played and sang Jambalaya really well; once even to a young woman named Yvonne. Ha! I was not an Americanist, but I took a course on transcendentalism with Bob and George Frein in the Religious Studies department just to take a class with him. It was a great class. George Frein and Bob Lewis had very different but complementary personalities. Bob had this quiet dark humor–he is one of the world’s foremost Hemingway scholars–and Frein had a kind of Lutheran seriousness. The combination was rather funny. It was a great class. They were both into the chautauqua, and our final project was to write a text “in character” of one of the transcendentalists that we had studied. I did mine on Emily Dickinson. I really enjoyed writing it. Bob was also on my dissertation committee; I get a chuckle every time I look over his comments and notes on the drafts. I worked for him as an intern at the North Dakota Quarterly for several years. Even after I graduated and left UND, Bob used to send me books on South Asia to review for the NDQ. When I got married, our musical section were three of my teachers–Michael Beard, Bob Lewis and Scott Lowe. They brought their guitars and played and sang for us. It was so beautiful. I wish I could see you, Bob, and Nina and Lisa. Take care, Bob. Thank you, and god bless.

August 26th Update: Bob passed away this morning. What a great great loss for UND, for the English department and for everyone who had the good fortune to know him. Rest in peace, Bob. You are greatly loved and missed by all of us. A big big hug for you, Nina.



  1. Gayatri,
    That is sad news. He was a wonderful man.
    Where are you, and what are you doing these days? I am teaching at Great Basin College in Winnemucca, Nevada. My phone number is 775 304-7626, and my email is

    Teresa Brumley

    • Wow, dear Teresa, is this really you? You don’t know how often I think of you, the perfect office-mate in Old Science, eh? I taught at UTD for a while, and now we are in Lock Haven , Pennsylvania; I teach at the University here. How is Beatrice? She must be a young woman now. I will call you over the weekend. Yes, Bob’s passing is a great loss for UND. You know I was talking with Nina, Bob’s youngest daughter, last week and she said that he finished his final Hemingway manuscript and gave everything to Ursula and then got ready to say goodbye to all. But you know he had a full, rich, beautiful life. Thanks for getting in touch with me. Love, Gayatri.

      • Yes, it is me, and I too, think you and our Old Science days often as well.
        Beatrice graduated from Macalester College in Minnesota. She’ll apply to medical schools this fall. I have another daughter, Lindsey, who is a sophomore.
        Do you have children?

  2. Beatrice, in med school! How time flies! She might not remember me at all, but tell her hello for me. Yes, we have one child, Dayani, and she is thirteen and in eighth grade. Both Krish and I teach at LHU. Did you ever publish the horse book you wrote with Bob? Your Master’s thesis? Dayani takes riding lessons and I told her about you growing up in a farm with horses and writing about it. G.

    • I published a chapter of it, but I’ve not published the whole thing.
      It’s interesting that your daughter takes riding lessons. Neither of mine have, although they’ve both done a little bit of riding.

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