The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Ed Gettier: Remembrance, by Bredo Johnsen

by Bredo Johnsen (UT Houston)

I arrived at Wayne State’s Philosophy Department in January of 1961, and fell in love with the discipline immediately. Ed was my first professor—in Logic I. A great, relaxed, and engaging professor —and a chain-smoker in class. At least once he tried to write on the board with his cigarette. Things went swimmingly for me, and after two years I was made a teaching fellow, and given a place in a shared office that was linked to Ed's and Bob Sleigh’s shared office. The only downside was that we got our office because it belonged to Hector-Neri Castañeda, who was spending the year at the University of Texas. The enormous bonus, however, was that I was permitted to join Ed, Bob, and sometimes Al Plantinga for mid-morning coffee at a restaurant just across the street. Those meetings almost always began with Ed’s grabbing a napkin to write on, and starting a discussion. Bob had to fuss a little with his pipe and related gear, while Ed could just light up.

Ed’s first wife had divorced him, and the story some of us had heard was that she had done so because he had "no national visibility." Oops!

Everyone who knew him well knew that there was bound to be another marriage in his future. That happened after I had left Wayne, but I know a bit of the story worth sharing. Before I left, I saw a performance of Shakespeare’s King Lear that starred perfectly, in the role of Cordelia, one Lucia Mengele. When I learned later of Ed’s and Lucia’s wedding, I was struck immediately by the perfection of their having met and “found” each other.

It is altogether fitting that they began their lives together by quitting smoking on their wedding day.

I extend all my love to Lucia in this very difficult time for her.