Students Stunned and Saddened By Death of Latin Teacher Douglas Julius
On August 31st, Pioneer Latin Teacher Douglas Julius passed away. He died suddenly at the University of Michigan Hospital. He is survived by his wife Jo and his two children, Gillian and Patrick. He taught English, Latin, and Greek in Ann Arbor Public Schools and will be missed by students and staff. Below are memories and letters from students of Mr. Julius.
Mr. Julius will be remembered by his students for his extraordinary intellectual curiosity and generosity of spirit. Both of these qualities made him an exemplary teacher and a good friend. He had the rare combination of immense knowledge and complete unpretentiousness about it. For instance, when I mentioned to him that I was making my first stumbling attempt at reading one of James Joyce's works, I remember him replying matter-of-factly that he read Joyce's Ulysses every year, because he enjoyed it so much. He could have mentioned that he was "a Joycean Scholar with an award-winning James Joyce collection at Cornell," as I learned from his obituary, but the collection of titles or honors was never the point of learning to Mr. Julius. He was always driven by the joy of knowledge for its own sake; he appreciated awards and recognition only as outward manifestations of an inner passion for learning.
My memories of Mr. Julius are all fragments like that conversation about James Joyce, fragments that I've been turning over in my head this past week, trying to fit together into something more-or-less whole. It's a process a bit like restoring a shattered stained-glass window - each fragment shines a lustrous cobalt blue or ruby gold before the light, but no single fragment can make complete on its own the picture of the man I knew. I've been endeavoring to pull these fragments back together: the conversation we had in the hall last year about how promising the new Spiderman trailer was; the surprised and amused look on his face when, in the first week we had him as a teacher, my friend Thea tentatively asked him if she could call him "Caesar"; his utterly serious suggestion that we spend a Friday fifth hour watching a 1990s movie version of Captain America starring J.D. Salinger's son; his smile reminiscent of "pater Aeneas" at our delight when he brought us donuts to celebrate Rome's birthday.
One of the most representative memories I've fastened into the metaphorical stained-glass window is that of Mr. Julius's response to our National Latin Exam results. He presented individually in front of the class the certificates and medals his students had earned. He framed the certificates himself, out of his own pocket. He loved not only his subject, but also his students.
I feel honored to have had the chance to get to know Mr. Julius, as a teacher and as a friend. His abundances of curiosity and kindness are the grounding principles not just of a scholar and an educator, but of a good human being. I will carry him with me forever.
-Zoe Crane Class of 2017
Read More Memories of Mr. Julius on the Feature Page
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