In Memory

Geoffrey S Joseph

Geoffrey S Joseph

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05/24/17 04:46 PM #1    

George H Stein

Geoff Joseph was one of the intellectual leaders of our class -- and that's among so many bright minds. He achieved Highest Honors with a major in philosophy But perhaps less known was his skill at ping-pong -- played at Mary Lyons 4, and poker. After Swarthmore, he pursued an academic career and wound up in Los Angeles, where we reconnected in the mid-1980s while I was at the Los Angeles Times. But his personal life was fraught and he took his life. To this day, I wonder regretfully if I could have somehow helped him.  

05/26/17 10:21 AM #2    

Stephen Maurer

Geoff was an honors major in phil, minor in math; I was an honors major in math, minors in phil and ling, with a 4,3,1 split, so we took mostly the same seminars the last 2 years, as well as the same special math course our sophomore year.

Junior year I was upstairs in Wharton (E section?) and Geoff was on the 1st floor in maybe F.  He used to hold court each night in his room, telling funny stories (often about his home state, FL, and his stepmother, Shirley, both of whom he detested) or discussing wide ranging intellectual topics.  Steve Diamond was there often, I infrequently, since I always felt I had work to do. I don't think Geoff ever started work before midnight, but he always got it done, very well.

AFter we graduated I saw him from time to time.  I remember visiting him in Boston and later in Wisconsin.  Then, after I returned to Swarthmore to join the faculty in 1979, he used to visit me at my house when, not infrequently, he visited his old teachers.

Do you remember the fatal Amtrak crash between Baltimore and Philly?  I'm talking about the crash in the 1980s (1/4/87 to be precise - thank you, Wikipedia! It's amazing how we can now look up anything quickly from a sliver of information), not the crash *in* Philly 2 years ago. Geoff came up to Swarthmore from DC on the train immediately before the crashed train, and had heard about the crash by the time he reached my house. He spent some time thinking about the fact  he had originally planned to be on the later train and it was just luck that he was alive. (The daughter of a mathematician I knew at Hopkins died on that train.) I guess this was part of Geoff's deeper thoughts about death, but I didn't know it at the time.  Though we had a long friendship, with overlapping academic interests and a lot of mutual respect, I never was privy to his inner sanctum.  Not sure anyone was.

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