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Two Faculty Portraits Added to Wall of Memories

October 14, 2021

““Cathy”

Cathy Essinger reads her poem, “I Am Teaching Leda and the Swan.”

During a ceremony held on campus Friday, September 10, 2021, Edison State Community College revealed the portraits of two former faculty members, Cathryn Essinger and William “Larry” Rich, that were later added to its Wall of Memories.

Before she retired, Essinger spent over 25 years as a full-time English professor at Edison State. During her time at the college, Essinger developed many courses, taught over 4,000 students, and founded the Edison State writer’s club. She was also among the first English faculty at the college to teach online.

Essinger has published and continues to publish original poetry and poetry books. While at Edison State, she freely and willingly wrote poems for special occasions and performed poetry readings for faculty, staff, students, and community members.

Kim Kiehl, Coordinator of Academic Information, spoke about the commitment and passion Essinger brought to her role. Kiehl described Essinger as someone who “truly seemed to enjoy teaching and encouraging students to strive for their personal best.”

“I found her willingness to share her expertise very generous,” Kiehl continued. “As a published author, her thoughtful comments were administered kindly, humbly, yet backed by an authority that students respected as she herself was a writer.”

“Cathy is one of those people who has made the world around us just a bit better by having shared her knowledge and skill with others.”

Eileen Thompson, Professor of English, added, “When I think of Cathy, the word ‘humility’ comes to mind. I asked Cathy what she thought her most significant contributions to Edison State were, and she said, ‘Oh, Eileen, I have no idea if I did anything significant or not. I made wonderful friends, and I hope I was a good colleague in return.’”

“Since Cathy retired, she has not been idle. She taught workshops at other colleges; published two books of poetry; and reviewed, edited, and commented on a wide variety of writing. Nowadays, she raises monarch butterflies and writes about conservation.”

Thompson then invited Essinger to read one of her poems, which was titled “I Am Teaching Leda and the Swan,” and reflected on one of Essinger’s moments as a professor at Edison State.

An adjunct foreign language and humanities instructor at Edison State for more than two decades, Rich was selected to be added to the Wall of Memories for his dedication to instructing at the college until his passing in 2020. When Larry could no longer drive, he arranged for a friend or family member to drive him to and from classes to continue to do the job he loved: teaching. In addition to teaching, Rich was involved in theater and performed in numerous Edison State plays.

Rich went above and beyond to ensure students received the best education available. “Larry purchased numerous movies for his foreign language classes to assist with understanding language in life situations. We offered Larry Edison State funds to make these purchases, but he always insisted on using his own money. That was his donation to the college,” Betty Blue, Copy Center Specialist, read from Academic Project Specialist Karen Baker’s nomination.

To ensure his colleagues knew of his appreciation for their support, “Larry purchased lunch once a week for the faculty support office staff to thank them for completing his typing and copying. Even though this was their task, Larry wanted to show them his appreciation and that they were not taken for granted.”

“Larry was a quiet, consistent presence at the college. He cared deeply for his students. He was part of the fabric of Edison State,” Gail Ahmed, Adjunct Faculty Instructor, read from a nomination from Greg Clem, Professor of Fine Arts.

The Wall of Memories, established in 1998 by members of the Academic Forum, is dedicated to former Edison State employees who significantly impacted the lives of students, faculty, and staff and who will forever be recognized as part of the college community.