- Remembering Harold
When the sad news of Harold’s untimely passing reached me, I refused to believe it. The next day, a puffy-eyed me walked into my summer classroom and, of course, all it took was a perceptive student asking “are you ok?” for me to well up again. After a self-mocking explanation to the students with “what can I say? Your teacher is human,” I ended up spending the next twenty minutes telling them about Harold and the amazing legacy that he had left behind. Indeed, what a legacy it is!
I first met Harold almost twenty years ago at an ATWS conference, the first of many more that I would attend during the subsequent years. Standing before me was a gentle giant who, towering above others around him, extended to me [End Page 67] his welcoming hand. As a young Chinese historian embarking on her academic career at a liberal arts college in the Midwest, I was immediately touched by Harold’s warmth and generosity. He spent quite a bit of time telling me about the organization that he had devoted his life building, and introducing me to the family of scholars dedicated to the study of the third world. I have stayed in that family ever since.
Getting to know Harold was a simultaneously humbling and inspiring experience. This was a man who, convinced of the necessity to expand scholarly explorations into the political, economic, social and cultural experiences of the third world countries, had built an incredible organization from the ground up. His contagious passion for the worthy cause, combined with his determination to get things done, quickly attracted like-minded scholars to the Association of Third World Studies. By the time I joined the organization, Harold’s influence had already spread far and wide among scholars across multiple disciplines in not only American academia but also in many other parts of the world.
Encouraged by Harold and several other esteemed colleagues, I mustered up my courage and ran for the secretary’s position on ATWS’s Executive Board in the late 1990s. Serving on the Board allowed me to observe Harold at work, up close and personal. I was simply wowed by his vision and commitment to the association and amazed by his attentiveness to meaningful operational details. He was instrumental in running the board meetings, organizing the annual conferences and overseeing the Journal of Third World Studies, among many other tasks. His enthusiasm was palpable and his devotion deeply moving. I knew then that I wanted to stay involved in the association; I became a life member.
Ten years ago, I was extremely honored to be selected as the associate editor for the Asian section of the Journal of Third World Studies, and got to work with Harold more closely [End Page 68] on issues related to article submission, review and acceptance, as well as ways of communicating with authors from outside of the U.S.. When initially I showed signs of frustration over delayed review processes, Harold allayed my anxiety with his patience and wisdom. Over all these years, I remained amazed at the fact that, whenever I sent an email message to Harold, be it six o’clock in the morning, three o’clock in the afternoon, or eight o’clock in the evening, I would get a reply from him almost immediately, as if he were always sitting at his computer desk waiting for my email. Even more touching is the fact that every single issue of the journal that I received was invariably accompanied by Harold’s hand-written note thanking me for my work and support. Just the other day, catching a glimpse of one of those notes once again brought tears to my eyes. I still cannot believe that Harold has left us.
Indeed, Harold’s passing is such a tremendous loss to ATWS as well as to the noble cause to which he had dedicated his life. I feel deeply indebted to him, professionally and spiritually. I wish I had had another chance to tell him in person, one more time, how much he meant to me, and to thank him for...