I met Gary in 1987 when we were both starting our careers as Visiting Assistant Professors at Union College in Schenectady, New York. He died on December 31, 2011, after a brief battle with cancer. The facts of Gary’s life as a classicist are clear: After earning a double Ph.D. in Classics and Comparative Literature at Yale, he went on to teach at some excellent places: Union College, George Washington, Eckerd College—where he held an endowed chair—and finally, Villanova. His numerous publications include his excellent Euripides and the Poetics of Nostalgia, published by Cambridge University Press in 2006. Gary was a conscientious, witty, and imaginative teacher, who earned the loyalty and devotion of many of his students.
Gary led a rich and noteworthy life. He enjoyed and took pride in his family: his two daughters, Emily and Rebecca Meltzer, their mother and his wife, Jill Ross Meltzer, his sister and her husband, Dale and David Stempler, and his array of cousins. He could not have been more devoted to Emily and Rebecca.
Gary was deeply interested in religion and committed to inter-faith efforts. He studied Judaism and greatly admired Elie Wiesel, whom he consulted on some of his projects. Gary was a caring friend, who was wise, respectful, funny, honest, and unfailingly trustworthy. In the final weeks of his life, he evinced an air of optimism and remained interested in his friends and family. A week before he died, he remarked to me, “Perhaps someday we shall talk of even these things.” Gary was a very private person, and I consider it a gift that I had a long friendship with him. Gary Meltzer’s life gives evidence that one can model what Aristotle considered the highest form of friendship.
Carol Steinberg Gould
Professor, Department of Philosophy
Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton, FL 33431