Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dr. Vaughan...

When upperclassmen at ETBU found out a new student had Dr. Vaughan, their one statement was, invariably, "Watch his eyes. He never blinks." With this information in hand, how could we do anything other than look at his eyes? It turned out to be true. He never blinked. About once every minute or so he would deliberately close his eyes, but never anything close to an involuntary movement. Rumor was that Dr. Vaughan was in the Korean conflict and suffered from shell-shock. As is the case with most in his generation, he made comments about the generalities of being in the military, but never brought up specifics.

What wasn't a rumor was his well-known love for his students. John Vaughan grew up an orphan in the Buckner Baptist Children's home system, and had no immediate family outside his two brothers. (An interesting tidbit about his time at Buckner is that one of his "sisters" at the Children's home was Lulu Roman of Hee-Haw fame.)
Because of this, he students were his family. If your birthday fell within the semester of the course you had with him, you would receive in class recognition and a card that included a gift certificate for no-small-change. (Mine was $30 to Pizza Hut.)

Dr. Vaughan's hangout was the Dairy Queen over on Hwy. 59, until it closed down, at which point he transferred his coffee cup to the Whataburger on 80. He was a late nighter who often would walk in well past midnight to interrupt students studying for an exam, usually one he was to give the next day. He would sit with them and immediately begin to talk about baseball. He loved the game and was an encyclopedia of baseball history and statistics. We loved listening to him, even if we weren't that interested, because he was hilarious. His humor was the kind that you needed to pay attention because he would dryly drop a joke in the middle of innocuous statements, and you needed to be on your toes in order to notice it. He would then make the statement that he needed to go, he had to get some sleep so he could deliver a "killer exam" the next day. These encounters rarely lasted for more than a few moments, but they always left the students with a smile before they returned to their studies.

Dr. Vaughan retired from ETBU in 2002 and passed away two days ago. He was 72 years old. Raise your glasses to professors who love students as much and more than they love their subject.


Talley said...

Thanks for letting us know about Dr. Vaughn, Craig. Your description was right on.

He was the only professor at ETBU who ever gave me a Chinese checkers set for my birthday.

salut Dr. Vaughn.

ben said...

i read your blog a good bit, but never have anyways...i just started my first semester of bible college...and thank you, this gives me hope.

Aaron said...

I had not heard this, Craig. Thanks for sharing. I had Dr. Vaughan for one class, "The Development of the Novel." During the course of one semester he gave me two rather expensive books and a gift card worth around $30 or $40. One night he took us all out for ice cream. I remember his love for okra.

I also remember his retirement. I was in Mike Wiley's Creative Writing class at the time, and the English department threw him a little retirement party. I was commissioned to write a sonnet in his honor. I still have it on my (other) computer. It was just a silly little thing.

Anonymous said...