From the Desk of ...

Every college student should have a Doc.

Dr. William J. McTaggart, affectionately called "Doc" by those who knew him during his tenure on the campus of Westminster College in New Wilmington, passed away Saturday in his New Wilmington home. He was 64.

If not for the silver strands in the unruly curls of his hair, he could have been mistaken for a student. Doc's classroom attire consisted largely of sweatshirts, sweaters, baggy pants and hats of various styles. Brush and comb were only distantly acquainted with this accomplished scholar.

He was more than a professor in the English department. The Fulbright scholar, who had retired from the college, once served as the department chair. Most importantly, however, many students called him a friend.

I am among them.

A staff member for more than 10 years with The Herald, my duties include writing obituaries one day each weekend. My heart skipped a beat Sunday upon seeing his name among obituaries e-mailed to us for Monday's paper. After fighting back sadness, I was flooded by many happy memories of Doc and couldn't help laughing to myself. He would've liked that.

It was his voice that echoed over the public address system for more than 25 years at Titan home football and men's basketball games. "Shake your pompoms! Shake 'em if you got 'em," was among his colorful catchphrases.

It wasn't until my senior year that I had the chance to be part of one of Doc's classes. The grammar course wasn't required, but I took it for the experience of having him as a professor.

Many times in class, we were treated to Doc's crooning, "Sweet mystery of life at last I found you" as he searched for a missing object on his desk.

Doc and I had a unique way of showing affection: We stuck our tongues out at each other. I now think of it as our way of saying, "I love you."

He was always playing jokes on his students. While attending Westminster's all-sports banquet days before my graduation, Doc came up behind me, snatched two cucumber slices from my salad and stuck them behind the lenses of my glasses.

That was Doc's true gift to all of us. Along with sharing his tremendous intellect, he taught us that life should not be taken too seriously. There is always time for joy and silliness.

Doc, wherever you are up there, I'm sticking my tongue out at you!

(Sharon Herald staff writer Lisa Mehler graduated in 1995 from Westminster College with a bachelor's degree in English).

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