This blog post is extremely special to me. It is a memorial to my late father, Professor Joseph John Kockelmans. Professor Kockelmans, or Pop as I called him, was born in or near Meerssen, Holland on December 1st, 1923.
Dad, a professor of philosophy with great knowledge in religion as well, studied and taught these subjects in Holland before moving to the United States, where he taught at the University of Pittsburgh from 1965 until 1968. Then he moved to State College, PA. with his family and began teaching at the Pennsylvania State University until he retired in 1993.
Even though my dad was a full tenured professor, he remembered the rule to, “publish or perish,” and wrote over 30 books dealing with philosophy and religion, as well as numerous articles. He also was sought after to teach all over the world. In the early years when I was a child and travel was less expensive, Pop would take the family with him to Europe. He lectured in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, as well as twice in Rome. I have vivid memories and many pictures of those trips.
As a child I sometimes felt as though dad was too busy. Most times he would be upstairs in his office typing away, either working on a book or preparing for the next day’s lecture. I was too young to understand that he was taking care of his family the best way he knew how, by doing the work that he felt so passionate about.
My father specialized in the philosophies of Martin Heidegger and Edmund Husserl and taught them very well. Though I never had the pleasure of taking one of my father’s classes, I heard from many of his students that he challenged them intellectually, yet used language that was easily understood. He was able to get his points across without confusion.
My father was president of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association, also known as the APA, from July 1, 1986 to June 30, 1987. I called the APA today to get the dates, and a very nice woman looked it up and got back to me within minutes with the exact information. I also got some information from John Protevi’s blog post written just after my father’s death.
One of his favorite times was Christmas. He and I would set up the Christmas tree as my mother would unpack the manger set. Dad also made the Christmas wreath for the dining room table every year. They were works of art. When I was little and wanted to go for a ride to see Christmas lights around town, he always got excited and put his work aside for that special hour that his son enjoyed so much.
In Dad’s later years, his health declined and a new office was added on to the family house, thus eliminating the danger of climbing stairs. When Mother passed in 2003, I moved back to the house and took care of Pop until he passed away in 2008. I remember my father as being strong, witty, loyal and true. He was a kind man who would spend extra time with students if they needed it and sat on many doctoral committees.
Update: Thanks to everyone who has read and enjoyed this blog post, as well as my other entries. I do have an update for this blog entry about my father.
My father’s official title was Joseph J. Kockelmans, Bacc, Lic, PhD, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the Pennsylvania State University. I got this information from the Purdue University Press entry on my father’s book Edmund Husserl’s Phenomenology.
I hope this doesn’t send a notification to everyone twice. This is the first time that I’ve had to update a post. I’m still in the trial and error time period. I’m still learning how this all goes.