Good Byes to Dr. D…

It is not often that you read familiar names in local news reports. Even less so if the locale itself is one you haven’t lived in for over 6 years.

This is why, when I first came upon a mention, in the SF Chronicle, of a slain college teacher living in Oakland, CA, it did not register much: random acts of violence and the senseless killing of innocent, beloved community members is unfortunately too common an occurrence in Oakland these days, to raise one’s attention…

And then today, while parsing Californian news again, I glanced upon the name of that teacher and realized that, against all odds, I knew him.

Not only did I know Dr. Dennis, but I also personally kept a very fond memory of these two semesters I studied with him. In fact, it was he who gave me a taste for Political Science, to the point of making it my college major the following semester, when I had originally just thought of it as a quick requirement to cross off my list before transferring with a science major.

Out of the very few classes I took at CCSF, “Dr. D” was easily the most striking professor: both as an incredibly smart, witty and engaging teacher and at the same time, obviously dedicated toward helping all students and making sure everybody got their fair chance in the end. I remember his fits of calculated zaniness in the middle of the most serious dissections of US Federal Institution and Constitutional Law. I remember that one time where, upon learning of my odd place of birth, he surprised us all by giving a quick but thorough geo-political recap of that tiny Indian Ocean island most wouldn’t even know where to put on a map, all in impeccable French. More so, I remember how astounded I was, when he concluded by throwing in a couple cheerful comments in perfect Seychellois Creole… I even remember that house of his in Oakland, where he traditionally invited his students for a semester-capping potluck dinner…

I still can’t believe now that his name, of all people, would add itself onto that seemingly unending list of tiresome injustices that is Oakland’s violent crimes reports.

He truly was a good man, in deeds and in inspiration for others. I know he will be missed by a lot.

Good bye Dr. D: may you rest in peace, Oh Zany One…


  1. It’s always sad when someone you know and feel affection for passes away, and is a double insult when it appears the result of seemingly chaotic and senseless violence. But how much worse is a fast death versus a long, drawn out one where all sorts of artificial measures are used to extend the number of final breaths while draining the family’s finances? Of course and unless I missed it, details of the slaying were not revealed in the SFgate item.

    The older you get, the more frequently the death of people you know tends to be perceived. It’s so hard for some, including myself, to make the threshold of apparent separation that occurs with death as a thing to be celebrated, instead of mourned.

    Perhaps paying attention to nighttime dreams can help…. Surely, if he were still alive today, he’d be happy that you remembered him with fondness.

  2. wow came across this story and it was touching. i hope everyone gets a soul like this in there life that truly connects them with the reality of death.. i know i have. it is to unfortionate bt u realize its a truth u would have never seen any other way in life but its harsh reality. grow from it it and hope u can make the difference they did, on someone else like they did 2 u.

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