By Tonia Kelly
“Oh, so you’re taking a course from the egg-man,” remarked the clerk in the Carleton University book store – that was back in 1995, and as a late bloomer, I was slowly pecking away at a degree in political science. My son’s friend had told me that – if necessary – I should rearrange my whole life’s schedule to get into Professor George Roseme’s class. I did. That was during his last year before his retirement. I have remembered my class with Professor Roseme as one of the brightest moments in my years at Carleton.
I had heard that he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and learned several years ago of his disappearance on his property near Farrellton, Quebec. Then I read in the Low Down (July 31-Aug. 6 edition) that human remains, recently discovered, are probably his.
From time to time, I would meet students who, like me, remembered him with near reverence. Once we spoke of the fact that, unlike other senior professors, he had never authored a book. One student explained: “He never had time. He was too busy being a great prof.”
He did keep chickens on his farm, and he actually had an egg route among friends at Carleton. His lectures took place in a theatre at Carleton that contained several hundred students. One morning “Farmer Roseme” stopped his lecture to tell us that he was already in a foul mood that day. He hadn’t been able to find clean socks that morning, he was wearing no socks inside his big work boots on a cold day, and his mood was about to get much worse – very fast – if that guy up in the theatre bleachers didn’t put his newspaper away. We all turned round, the guy’s newspaper slid from view and the lecture continued.
Although he was a specialist on the subject of United States and Russian history and politics, I must admit that, years later, it’s his anecdotes that I remember most and that still make me laugh.
During one of his departures from his official lecture he told us that he was a wise old guy who was often approached by students who wanted to share his wisdom. He conceded that he was wise and that he had distilled all his wisdom down into three maxims for a good life: one – pay off your VISA first; two – never pick a scab; and three – never fry bacon in the nude!
I had always intended to contact Professor Roseme to tell him the thoughts, but I never did. This tribute comes too late for him, but perhaps it will find its way to students, colleagues, friends and family who remember him fondly and well.
It was indeed a privilege to have known him.
Tonia Kelly is a resident of Perth, Ontario