Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Remembering Herman

He didn't want a funeral; he wanted a party

My colleague Herman Jottman died back in June in a car crash. His close friends and family had a very quiet funeral shortly afterward, but they wanted the public commemoration of his death to be delayed a while.

This evening was the celebration, and a celebration it was. His companion, Nina, said he didn't want a funeral – he wanted a party. And I agree. I knew Herman as a colleague for the entire 12 years I worked at the community college from when I hired on until his death. He had a great sense of humor, and he loved a good joke. He enjoyed socializing after-hours, and we kept saying we ought to get together more often, but it never happened.

At work, he and Nina were both colleagues; at the campus where I do most of my teaching, my cubicle is between his and hers. It was always fun interacting with the two of them.

After his death, I learned things about Herman that I wish I had known before. For example, I knew that he was an outdoorsy sort, but I didn't learn the extent until I read his obituary – he was an avid backpacker and adventure traveler, and he had climbed all of Colorado's fourteeners. And, for a while, he had worked in Los Alamos.

At the celebration, I learned even more. I learned how extensive his outdoor adventuring had been, how he had been to the Himalayas, and how once in Europe, he had fallen off a mountain and broken his neck, but had pulled his tent around him for warmth and been rescued the next day. I learned that he was also an avid photographer, mostly taking pictures of nature, although he also had some delicious art photos of his second ex-wife.

Herman was a practical joker, I already knew, but I heard about jokes he had pulled, such as making a gift of a Noam Chomsky t-shirt to a colleague who wasn't a Chomsky fan, in such a way that the recipient of the shirt didn't realize Herman was joking. I heard about how, shortly after he had worked in Los Alamos and had relocated to Albuquerque, he was a fan of a particular Albuquerque pizza place, and he would get pizza from there and hustle it up to Los Alamos so his friends could enjoy it. I heard about how he was fond of "anything with a two-stroke engine" – including chain saws, which were a particular favorite of his.

Later, I was talking with Nina, and she and I agreed that this ought to be an annual event, the Herman Jottmann Annual CNM Faculty Party, complete with chain saw competitions. Yeah, that would be good.

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14 Comments:

Blogger Philippe Gadeyne said...

My kind of guy. I told my wife, when I die I don't want a funeral either. I jokingly told her I wanted a party, on a tall ship or an old ship and my ashes spread out to see (from the tallest mast)
But seriously, I do want my ashes spread out to see and I want a party not a funeral, I want people to remember me for who I really am, somebody passionate about photography, the ocean and sailing. I also love the Southwest and the Rockies, but you can't have both...lol

Fri Jul 30, 09:21:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Philippe Gadeyne said...

sorry about the type, it's sea, not see

Fri Jul 30, 09:27:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Baydog said...

You've lost way too many people lately. If the saying that bad things come in threes (I'm not superstitious at all but just trying to find some kind of reasoning) is true, then it should be smooth sailing for a while for you, Carol Anne.

Fri Jul 30, 10:10:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Actually, the total over the past few months is 10: 4 colleagues (the college even brought in grief counselors), 3 sailing friends, 2 high-school classmates, and my father-in-law. I'm wondering when it will end.

Sat Jul 31, 10:00:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

And Philippe, yes, I want a party, too. Many years ago, the mother of one of my friends died, and she knew ahead, so she bought several cases of her favorite champagne and planned a menu of her favorite foods, and she insisted that everybody have a good time. That's the sort of thing I want.

Sat Jul 31, 10:03:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Frankie said...

Seemingly it is harder for those staying behind than for those departing. My sympathy to you Carol.

Sun Aug 01, 11:48:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Programming note: Visitor #79K was somebody in Quebec, on the usual sort of search.

Mon Aug 02, 08:53:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

I gotta ask, Carol Anne: was Herman, himself, a Noam Chomsky fan?

Wed Aug 04, 08:00:00 AM MDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Carol Anne, thank you so much for posting this lovely remembrance of my beloved Herman.

We did have a good time, didn't we?

And Doc, Herman objected to Chomsky's essentialist views of language, but was in substantial agreement with his politcal views.

--Nina

Thu Aug 05, 09:06:00 PM MDT  
Blogger Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

In that case, had I the good fortune to have known Herman, I would have been a fan.

Thu Aug 05, 10:29:00 PM MDT  
Anonymous Jessica Gault said...

I just wanted to say a few words. Mr.Jottman was an awesome instructor. When I heard about what happened it took a while for me to take in what happened. I had him for one semester right after I got out of high school in 07 and I had just transfered to his class at CNM West that week. He was a very good instructor and very intelligent. Thanks for putting this online for him. This helps. Me to know that others cared as well.

Sat Aug 28, 08:08:00 PM MDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have known Herman for about 30 years and I do not think you are going to find a better person than Herman. I am sure I could write a book about both his life and his jokes. I cried like a baby when I found out he was dead. He had been my roommate, my friend, and yes he tutored me in math, he had also made some wood sculpture for my wife and I never had a chance to thank him for making my life better. As far as I am concerned to know him was to love him...For what it is worth, my name is Lawrence Winston Reid, but Herman refered to me as Julio. I have not only lost a Unreplacable friend but I have also lost a brother.

Tue Nov 09, 12:46:00 PM MST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear of Herman's passing. He and I were best friends way back in 1974 and 1975 when we were stationed on Guam in the Air Force. We worked together, rode and raced motorcycles together, hung out and had good times. After I left Guam in 1975, and later the Air Force, Herman came to visit me in 1978 and we went to Daytona Beach for Bike week. I lost touch with him until a couple of years ago when we reconnected via e mail and I had hoped to get out to New Mexico to visit him some day. "Rest in peace old friend."
Danny Kelly Conway, SC

Sat Nov 13, 12:02:00 PM MST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well this is a shock. I Googled Herman today and found this site. I too knew Herman back in the "Air Force Days" Hill Air Force Base in Utah in 1976 and 1977. We worked and played hard together. My fondest memory is a week we spent living in a friends van and camping and dirt biking all over Utah. We lost touch for 20 years and I reconnected with him in 1998 via the internet. I too remember his sense of humor, and some of the photos of his ex-wife. ;) Very sorry to hear of his passing. He was a good man and will be missed. I told my sons years ago to have a celebration party rather than a funeral. Adios Amigo! Vaya Con Dios.... Dave Savelsberg

Fri Jan 14, 09:24:00 AM MST  

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