Letter to the Editor: Remembering Dr. Fears as a teacher, mentor and hero
I think I can speak as well as any student about Professor J. Rufus Fears. I spent five semesters with him, taking Freedom in Rome, Freedom in Greece, Letters Capstone, Honors Reading and Honors Research.
Dr. Fears was my teacher, my mentor and my hero.
The first time I heard Dr. Fears give a lecture, I was about 12-years-old. One day during homeschooling, we watched Dr. Fears’ “Freedom in Rome” DVD series.
We were instantly captivated — and wildly entertained — by this brilliant teacher and storyteller. We proceeded to watch all of Dr. Fears’ lecture series.
About six years later, I was deciding on what college to attend. Dr. Fears was one of the main reasons I wanted to come to OU. In early 2009, I visited OU and sat in on Dr. Fears’ letters Capstone.
When I met him afterwards, I was meeting a celebrity. I couldn’t wait to enroll in one of his classes.
I came into OU with lots of credit hours, so I was able to take Freedom in Rome in the spring of my freshman year.
I learned to position myself in the aisle seats so I could roleplay with Dr. Fears (“Do you want to kill Romans, Hannibal?”) and participate in the battles by being stabbed with his staff.
I loved how he used to start his classes by asking, “What day is it today?”
If we responded with the real date, he would correct us: “No, it is March 15, in the year 44 B.C.”
Or, if some learned student provided the historical date, Dr. Fears would respond, “No, it is February 9th, and you have a test next Tuesday.”
When Freedom in Rome ended, I led a standing ovation for Dr. Fears.
My friends and I often share Dr. Fears-isms: quoting the definitions of strategy, tactics, logistics and battlefield command — or mimicking his ferocious war-cries.
In my time with Dr. Fears, I fought in the Battle of Marathon. I was wary of the Ides of March. I remembered the Alamo. I saw Great Britain in its finest hour.
In personal times of spiritual and philosophical crisis, Dr. Fears’ teaching reminded me that I believe in right and wrong.
Dr. Fears was very guarded about his personal beliefs. He didn’t just tell you about the truth. He wanted to prepare you for a lifetime of seeking the truth.
Dr. Fears, you taught us the values we need to live as free citizens in a democracy.
You taught us about justice, courage, wisdom and moderation.
You taught us to be proud of our country, and you taught us to cherish this beautiful university.
Dr. Fears, I wanted to visit you in Sun City, Arizona, and tell you that I lived a life worthy of the lessons you taught me.
The last day we spoke, I told you I would remember these life lessons and pass them on to my children. I told you that you would always be remembered.
You are remembered, Dr. Fears.
Steven Thorn, professional writing senior