Students and Faculty Mourn Spanish Professor
February 23, 2005 7:17 PM
Flowers and candles adorned a memorial tribute on Wednesday to Dr. Gladys P. Blacut, a Spanish lecturer with a 20-year history at SF State. Nearly 50 people gathered in Room 473 of the Humanities building to remember Blacut, who died on Feb. 11 at age 67.
Foreign Languages Department Chair Midori McKeon tearfully described working with Blacut to be a privilege and honor.
“I am awed at the largeness of the vacuum that her departure has created, which I know we cannot easily fill,” McKeon said. “She poured her unselfish love to the benefit of students and set uncompromisingly high standards for herself as a teacher to bring out the best and the most of her students.”
Blacut had been battling breast cancer and liver failure for several years, and eventually her kidneys were affected as well.
“She was very resilient,” Spanish Professor Gustavo Calderon said. “We thought she was going to beat it, but in December it (cancer) came back with a vengeance.”
Calderon described Blacut as a beloved colleague and friend with a great knowledge of literature.
Dora Balcazar, a friend and former student of Blacut, described her death as a tremendous loss for the Spanish-speaking community as well as women in general.
“Thanks to her, I appreciate women in literature,” Balcazar said. “She was a beautiful person and she’ll be missed terribly. Not only among the Spanish, but all immigrants.”
Former SF State professor Julian Randolph said that there was never a challenge too difficult for Blacut.
Spanish professor Emilio Cabeza-Olias described Blacut and the Spanish department not as a group of instructors, but as a family.
“When you don’t have brothers and sisters, all your love goes to your friends,” Cabeza-Olias said. “I’m so glad to see this place today full of friends and colleagues. To know her was to love her.”
Raquel Montenegro-Calvello, a graduate student of Dr. Blacut, said that on the day of the rosary service, a hummingbird caught her eye.
“It was like an omen,” Montenegro-Calvello said. “because later that day I saw another bird that caught my eye, and she (Blacut) had always said that if she came back to earth, she would come as a pajarito (bird).”
Julita McNichol, a graduate student from Spain, described Blacut as a small woman who was huge inside. She said Blacut had two loves: Bolivia and literature.
Near the end of the service, Blacut’s family was presented with an SF State banner and a book of condolence contributed by the students and faculty.
Several people attending the memorial played songs and read poems in remembrance of Blacut. One poem related Bolivia to California, using the condor to connect the two regions.
“We wish you a safe journey, Gladys,” Calderon said at the end of the service. “May the condor of the Andes protect your trip home. To the Andes of your youth, you are now a lily of the field, so pure and bright in the mother land.”
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