What came through was he wanted to help people discover who they were and to help them fight their own battles. This is the marvelous gift he had. But he transgressed against it from time to time. Not with students. I never saw him do that with students. But sometimes he would poke fun at people in a way that sometimes got to be pretty awful. He could zero in on a person’s – interesting – I was going to say a person’s weakness. He didn’t mean to thereby put it down. He wanted that person to become aware of that so that person could become a better person. I’m putting a pretty favorable construction on that but sometimes that kind of intensity and that kind of great zing toward the jugular in some ways in another person could come off as mean and/or trivializing. His laughter of course helped a great deal in making people feel more comfortable. But I think sometimes he did hurt because he was not sufficiently aware of his own powers. He had tremendous power and therefore he overstepped sometimes. And that’s a very important thing for a person to know their own power, you know? For a while he could make people feel a little bit put off, a little bit upset, a little bit shame-faced, feel really judged.

And it gets back to my thinking about when he poked at people, as Gaudino did, was that an educated effort or was that just a mood of his in which he was just feeling not very good with himself or whatever? This happened in Washington, D.C. once. We were with a civil servant at a party, probably from State Department, basically a semi-loud mouth. He was very aggressive himself and felt that he was the big cheese and Gaudino had to zero in on that. In that case his impulses were not educated. I mean, he put this man down. Gaudino was very swift and he pushed him down physically. Yes, pushed him. Gaudino and I had a long talk along the Potomac. Gaudino was not happy. He was not happy with himself at that point and a really very, very powerful moment. He was chastened by himself.

John Resenbrink,
University of Chicago graduate school classmate and early Williams College faculty colleague