A Great Teacher & Friend

August 24, 2004

There are those who will remember a course with Dr. Wilson with a certain amount of pride. They will recall the mountain of facts that were cast down upon them to understand and memorize, and they will hold their heads a little bit higher that they survived the experience and lived to tell the tale. There are those who will remember with anger or disappointment that they were unable to meet the challenge of the material. People will see the courses that Dr. Wilson taught from many different perspectives, adding their own to the experience, as always occurs.
But what they will all see the same, for the most part, is not the courses that Dr. Wilson taught. In fact, to those who knew him, the courses, while memorable, won't hold a candle to the memory of the man. Dr. Wilson was not a lecturer, pounding away at a book and demanding that you absorb the knowledge. He was simply interested in helping you to learn more, not because it was his job, but because he wanted you to get where you were going. 
Very few people not on the much-chosen path to medical school took Dr. Wilson's courses, and for that, I am saddened. Those in the hard sciences will have been the only witnesses to a variety of jokes, anecdotes, laughs and, above all, smiles that Dr. Wilson shared and made you share, as well. An ice pick will always make me think of Dr. Wilson fondly, and sadly, if you don't know why, then you never will, and that is a shame. And beyond the fun, Dr. Wilson's shining moments were in the conversations he had with students about losing the way along the medical school path or the volume of material or difficulty of the subjects.
Dr. Wilson -- Ray, as he repeatedly tried to get his students to call him (and I never quite could become comfortable with) -- gave a speech in accepting his award for Collins Outstanding Professor of the Year. It was the year I graduated from Baylor (1997), and I remember being proud of him and wondering if he was going to use the cash award that went with it to fund a newer Corvette.
What I remember most about that speech, though, was what he said about the duty of a teacher and what it takes to truly teach. In his speech, Ray explained that his charge was the friendship he developed with his students, that he wasn't just a lecturer, that a good teacher must be more. I couldn't have agreed more, and I now mourn the loss of a great teacher ... and of my friend.
Godspeed, Ray.

Ramirez earned his BA in chemistry in 1997 and his MCG (master's in clinical gerontology) in 1999. Wilson taught Ramirez in Human Physiology in fall 1994 and Physiology of Aging in spring 1998. Ramirez works for University Libraries at Baylor.