Just read the NY Times article. He was right, you do look back on things as funny, and absurd. I have to, anyway. He brought that to his classroom, and that, to me, proves his value as a teacher-man.
I am sure there are enough people out there who will write eulogies and tributes about his warmth and humor, his resourcefulness and inspiration, his rags-to-riches story and how beloved he was as a teacher and writer. I am just proud that I was able to share one high school semester of my life with him.
He exposed me to Thomas Wolfe's "You Can't Go Home Again," the ultimate exploration of autobiography, and the potential use4s of one's own life as writing material. His class was the definition of "write what you know." For that I will forever be grateful.