Her Teacher Was Long Dead. Here’s Why This Student Wrote a Touching Thank-You Note Anyway.

This teacher not only taught his class about the periodic table, but also inspiration and curiosity.

REM1508ND14Reminisce Magazine Dear Mr. O. J. Folse,

I have put this letter off for far too long. I know you passed away many years ago, but maybe someone else reading this will do what I didn’t, before it’s too late for him or her. I want you to know what a difference you made in my life and to say thanks.

When you taught me general science at Patterson High School, you awakened a curiosity in me to learn about everything in my universe—not just the things in general science but everything, everywhere. My constant question was and still is, “Why?” I know I drove my daddy mad sometimes, especially when he was doing some household chore or car repair, with my constant questions. What’s that? What is it used for? Why doesn’t work that way? Why, why, why? He would get so tired of answering my questions that he would need a break and say to me, “Go in the house, Gwen!”

The only things I can recall now from your class are how to identify the different types of clouds and the elements in the periodic table. It wasn’t the content of the lessons but the inspiration—to question, to be curious, and to look at problems as challenges to be solved—that has served me so well over the years.

When I look at the sky and point to a cloud formation, informing anyone around that those are such and such clouds, I can see their eyes glaze over. But occasionally, one of my grandchildren will catch the spark and ask, “How do you know that?” I say, “I had a teacher.”


Gwen McKneely

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Originally Published in Reminisce