To David

from Janna Olson Gies, Kirk, Krista, Katherine, Chad, Austin, Emma, and Anderson

Twenty-four years,
many trips,
two weddings,
three grands,
many pounds later,
still fun and happy.
Thanks 4 all!!!

There once was a prof named Gies

by Gretchen Shively

As one of David’s four sisters-in-law on Janna’s side of the family, I am writing to add to sister Kristin’s wonderful toast to David. Most of the accolades in this journal have been written by his former students and colleagues as a fabulous tribute to his role as a professor, mentor, and academic leader, of which we are well aware but didn’t experience ourselves. But there’s so much more to David than his abilities as a teacher. He is constantly energetic, funny, upbeat, spirited, caring, kind, and so generous with his time and friendship (and a fabulous cook as well). I’ve never known anyone who can get more done in any single 24-hour period, day after day. We so enjoy participating vicariously in Janna’s and his worldwide travels through his many pictures and reports of places they’ve been. Whenever my husband and I are going to a new part of the world, where David has inevitably already been, we ask for his advice and he writes a long reply with many travel tips, especially about the best restaurants in the area. He has been such a wonderful husband and partner to Janna, which will of course continue in his retirement. Also, on behalf of our 98-year-old mother, I want to express our appreciation to him for how loving and supportive he’s been to her over the years, including the time he took his own mom and ours on a fantastic 10-day trip to all his favorite places in Spain. Welcome to the world of retirement, David. I’m sure you will make the most of it, knowing you!

There once was a prof named Gies
Whose efforts would more than suffice.
He taught Spanish for years
And brought students to tears
With his knowledge of Spain and advice.

He travelled the world far and wide
With students and friends and his bride
He reported his trips
With multiple tips
On places to eat, drink and stride.

But now Gies is going to retire
Do we think he will really aspire?
To sitting at home
And being alone?
More likely he’d rather expire.

He isn’t that sort of man, is he?
Instead he will make us all dizzy
By talking and cooking
And writing and booking
And so he will always be busy.

Happy retirement, David!

From Gretchen and Chuck

My David Gies Story

By Kristin Carlson

My David Gies story is unique. I did not meet David in a classroom or in Spain, I do not speak Spanish and have never been on Semester at Sea. I love him as a brother as that is what he is to me!

I first met David through a phone call from my oldest (or shortest as she prefers to be described) sister, Janna. She called to tell me that she had met someone. Janna was working at the Virginia Quarterly Review and her boss, Staige, had a frequent visitor to the office. Supposedly, David was just writing reviews, but he was quite proficient in his reviews that fall. He also claimed Staige’s dog, who was always at the office, needed attention. Eventually, David asked Janna out for dinner and they began to get to know each other.

I am one of five sisters and although we live all over the world, we are very close. I was tasked with checking this man out to see if he was too good to be true. So, my Mom and I made the trip out to Charlottesville to meet David. We were staying at Janna’s and in the morning there was a knock on the door. There stood the distinguished professor with a jar of peanut butter in his hand. What a perfect introduction to this man who pays attention to details and somehow knew that my mother loves her peanut butter for breakfast. The next few days we experienced his hospitality in many ways. He gave us tours of the university, entertained us with his stories, invited us to attend one of his lectures and, of course, fed us his world renowned paella. And for dessert, he pulled a spaghetti maker out of his bread box and proceeded to make noodles out of ice cream topped with strawberry sauce for the spaghetti sauce!

When I got home from the trip, I immediately received phone calls from the other sisters and I very happily reported that yes, David Gies did get our rousing approval. Or, in movie review language, two thumbs up. In November of that year, Mom and Dad and all the sisters gathered in Charlottesville for Janna and David’s wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony on the UVA campus and we were all thrilled for them and the start of a new chapter in their lives.

In the years since then, my respect and love for David has continued to grow. I have so enjoyed living vicariously through their many adventures. I am pleased and proud to brag about my famous brother-in-law who has been knighted by the King of Spain, honored by the University of Virginia with many accolades, is the world’s foremost authority of 18th Century Spanish erotic literature (or some such thing), and has even been on Jeopardy. But I have to say that for me, the most important thing about David is his presence as a wonderful husband, step-father, grandfather (Lito), uncle to my kids, and my brother. Thank you, David, for enriching all of our lives.