Memories of Howard Rase
In honor of our centennial, Professor Don Paul shares memories of his dear friend and former colleague Howard Rase whom we lost in May 2014.
Death is inevitable for everyone, but just as inevitable is the feeling of loss and emptiness that surrounds the loved ones who remain. I sincerely believe that what helps is to remember, talk, and hear about the meaning that the life of Howard F. Rase had for so many that knew him. I am writing to tell you some of the things he meant to me.
Most important of all was that he was my friend. Howard was the chair of the Chemical Engineering Department in the mid-1960’s, and he was the one who convinced me to join this faculty. I feel very sure that I would not have come to The University of Texas except for his efforts and human kindness. Here I am 47 years later and still working at UT with a family that has deep roots in Austin—we will never leave this place. Howard was a constant source of wisdom and encouragement for me each step of the way. For various reasons, it became necessary for me to become chair of the department at a much too young age, but Howard’s confidence in me gave me the courage to do the job. At a certain point, it became clear that the department needed a new building and Howard volunteered to use his experience and wisdom to design the building so I could focus on running the department. He did a splendid job and I got the credit. I remember many days when we had lunch in the old Varsity cafeteria. I learned much from those lunch-time conversations. I also enjoyed his wry sense of humor; he could have been a comedian for a living!!
One of my prized possessions is a drawing of Howard’s famous “mini-reactor” that was made by Jimmy Holmes at Howard’s instruction. I had a great appreciation of the artistic talents of the draftsmanship of Jimmy Holmes and this reactor was Jimmy’s “Mona Lisa.” Some years ago, Howard was trying to downsize his office and gave me this drawing because he knew how much I liked it. It now hangs in my home office. It gets many comments.
Shortly before his passing, I met one of Howard’s former students who was asking about him. He asked me if I could arrange for us to visit with Howard. I was in the very process of doing this when I got the message. I felt badly for both of us that we missed this opportunity.
These are but a small sampling of what Howard meant to me, and it helps me to tell you this about my friend. In some way, I hope it is a small help to others who miss him.
Ernest Cockrell, Sr. Chair in Engineering
Consider giving to the Howard Rase Endowed Scholarship