The Passing of a Special Professor

I am sad to learn about the passing of one of my rescuers on the Atlantic ocean, July 26, 1956. As I struggled to enter a small window at the top of the French liner, Ile de France, Leonor McAlpine was there helping Andrea Doria shipwreck survivors.

I discovered her identity years later at Wayne State University. Profesora MccAlpine was my Spanish instructor. As I recounted my frightful story, she watched and listened intently; I thought she was impressed with my Spanish speaking abilities. Instead, when I had finished, Profesora McAlpine remarked, “I was one of the people who was pulling survivors into that little window on the Ile!”

I don’t know which one of us was more shocked. The proverbial “6° of separation” became 2° when I learned that she had taught at my high school some years earlier, and that she was living less than 2 miles from my home.

This encounter taught me that we are all interconnected and all in need of one another.

Gracias, Profesora McAlpine!

NB. The obituary reads:

Leonor E. McApline, age 91, November 5, 2009, a 91 year resident of Detroit. The fifth child of Dr. John Gordon and Luz Yrazabal. Leonor earned her BA and MA at Wayne State University. She taught Spanish at Pershing, Denby and Henry Ford High Schools. Professor of Spanish at W.S.U from 1965 – 1986. She leaves behind loving nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews. A private memorial service will be held. The family suggests contributions to the Detroit INstitute of Arts or the National Organization of Women.

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