Chris Fee, professor and chair of the English department, wrote a Dec. 6 piece on the Huffington Post about homelessness. The piece was written in advance of the Dec. 21 National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day.
I spend a lot of time with my students working at soup kitchens and homeless shelters, and each winter, when it gets really cold and dark, my thoughts more often turn back to Dick. Dick died on January 31, 1988. He was a veteran who served in Germany in the 1950s and was a graduate of St. John's University in New York, where his father had been an English professor.
Dick had completed most of the work for his MBA during a career which included positions at Procter & Gamble, Federated Department Stores, and National Cash Register. At the time of his death, Dick had been bunking with friends, and he seldom had to sleep rough on the streets.
Still, the fall from grace of this quintessentially middle-class man -- charming, smart, educated, and popular -- provides a cautionary tale for us all. Dick came of age in a corporate world much like that depicted in "Mad Men," and like many of his peers, he drank far too much. Unlike many of those peers, however, Dick's life eventually unraveled, and he ended up at the bottom of the heap.