In September of 2004, I walked into a classroom of a man who quite frankly scared me to death. I hated math, but was still faced with a college algebra course my first term in college. To say I was terrified does not begin to describe my emotion. I would like to say that Dr. John S. Robertson was quick to alleviate my fears, but this is not the case. The more he lectured, the more terrified I became. This was a man whose brilliance was as intimidating as his bold red suspenders were distracting.
I still hate math. But, over the course of the next two years, and with the benefit of retrospect, I learned so much more from him than I ever imagined. He demonstrated to me how to manage a classroom. He showed me how to reward students who make an effort. He strove to reassure me that it was possible to be both a man of science and logic while being a man of faith. He introduced me to the world of Biblical apologetics. While we did not share the same denomination, we did share the same faith and he taught me the importance of being able to defend and describe what I believe.
He was also the faculty advisor for the GMC Amateur Radio Club, of which I was the only member. On the occasions where we would have meetings, we would sit together long after formal adjournment and discuss things related to radio, to science, to faith, and to life. Without realizing it was happening, I was being given a model of the liberal arts experience.
Dr. Robertson and I fell out of touch after his retirement, which is something I hate. But, I can still see his influences each time I stand before a classroom, each time I engage in a theological discussion, and each time I am trying to make sense of a math problem. He had a tremendous impact on my life, as I am sure he has on countless others during his years of teaching at the United States Military Academy, Georgia College, and Georgia Military College. He passed away last week; I didn’t find out until the funeral was in progress. Since I was not able to pay my respects in person, on behalf of all of his former students, I say thank you. You will be missed.