By Monique Larkin
By Monique Larkin
In memory of James M. Mehegan, geology instructor, beloved husband and brother-faculty, friends, and students alike came together on Sept. 16 in the Quad to celebrate Mehegan’s life during the memorial held in his honor.
Several faculty members spoke of their valued friendship with Mehegan and shared their respect for him as a person.
“Dr. James Mehegan was my friend, we all shared a special bond of friendship with Jim,” said Virginia Mckee-Leone, Associate Professor of Biology. “He would always describe his field trips as stupendous, phenomenal and fantastic. He also used these words to describe the world around him. I think that all of us here would agree that these words describe him,”
Associate Professor of Arts Karin Skiba spoke of how vibrant Mehegan was and how she was in disbelief when she had heard that her close friend and colleague had had a heart attack and died on July 29.
“Jim was a vibrant and wonderful person,” Skiba said. “He was a person of truth and beauty. He was always there for all of us and he inspired all of us. He was always genuine and true to his vision,”
Another colleague of Mehegan’s, Richard Mahon, told the memorial service audience that Mehegan is irreplaceable on the CTA committee, as a faculty member, and as a person who respected everyone.
“Jim was active on the CTA committee. I respected him deeply for the sincerity of his point of view,” Mahon said. “He always respected faculty even when they did not agree with him. He knew that respect was not predicated on agreement. It is a false clichÃ© to say that one person is replaceable, because Jim is irreplaceable. I just hope that we could all copy the way he argued, articulately and respectfully, that, I think, is the most fitting tribute that we could give to him,”
Mehegan intended to teach geology classes this fall semester for the Study Abroad Program in Florence, Italy, as well as take his students to tour local volcano sites in the area.
Director of the Study Abroad program Jan Schall shared how much time and energy Mehegan had put into planning his Study Abroad courses.
“Jim always had a vision, an extraordinary plan for his life,” said Schall. “He was ultimately pensive and thoughtful; he had planned his field courses with utility and delight. He had a tremendous presence,”
As a professor, Mehegan had the ability to devote himself solely to teaching because of his dedication to RCC and his true concern for its students.
Ana Marie Munoz, a student of Mehegans’ spoke of how much he inspired her to stay on top of school.
“I enjoyed his class, he had such a passion for the earth,” said Munoz. “I can imagine him in heaven teaching God about rocks and volcanoes,”
Christina Watson, another student of Mehegan’s, spoke of his enthusiasm as a professor.
“Professor Mehegan was the most enthusiastic teacher, he would always take the time to say hi and notice me,” said Watson. “He was more than my professor, he was my mentor. He would never let me get off course, but in a good, caring way. It is my turn to make him proud in my major and in my future studies in geology,”
ASRCC president Dany Wilson said Mehegan did not just teach, but he led his students through an experience.
“You could see how much he loved his students,” said Wilson. “I remember him on a field study, making sure that I had enough air when I felt sick. I think that we are all better for having known him,”
Dean of Faculty Kristina Kauffman spoke of how she saw Mehegan as a friend.
“I didn’t want him to go to Italy, mainly because I would miss him,” Kauffman said. “He was a truly fine man. I had an overwhelming feeling to appreciate him for what a pleasure it was in working with him, he always made me feel safe,”
Class trips were something that Mehegan loved to do. He took graduate and undergraduate trips to the Cascade Mountains to study volcanoes, to Death Valley and Zion Canyon in Utah.
His interest in ocean floor volcanic rocks, and geothermal systems assocated with ancient volcanoes led him to the Imperial Valley in California and the Mexicali Valley in Mexico.
His final adventure took him through an 18-day Colorado River kayak and rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. It was on this trip that he died, ultimately doing what he loved.
Mehegan’s wife Colleen said that her husband’s love for the earth was phenomenal.
“We spent our honeymoon seeing volcanoes. He had a love for the earth and for each and every human being,” she said.
Early May of this year, in gratitude, as the newly elected CTA vice president, Mehegan expressed how important unity and trust is in the CTA.
“Let us strengthen our unity and let us begin to focus on electing new members to the RCC Board of Trustees,” he said. “We need trustees that support the rights of faculty, that support the academic needs of our students, and that represent the communities that our colleagues serve. Remember, the term trustee describes one that the life of a college is entrusted to make certain they have our trust.”