You of unbounded energy and joy

By Janet Beckmann

You of unbounded energy and joy, what a gift!  You exemplify the Renaissance individual, but in addition, and specific to you, David Gies, is this ability to link us to what we want to know perhaps even before we realize we are looking.  You were the one with a vision for high school teachers who are mired in “Spanish One Land,” a vision to bring them together in the spring for Center for the Liberal Arts’ presentations.  You arranged summer institutes at UVA so secondary teachers could immerse themselves in scholarship for three weeks. And most important to me was the work with Cine con Clase, your gift to Spanish teachers, Spanish students, and film-lovers everywhere.  Thank you.

A personal superhero

By Paulette Jones Morant

Homenaje a David T. Gies

A leader, a seeker of justice, an intellectual and a true friend; these characteristics only begin to describe the distinguished gentleman, Mr. David T. Gies. As the twenty-eighth year of our association and friendship approaches, I am honored to reflect on his positive and inspirational effects. Whether friend, colleague, family member or student, David motivates achievement and excellence. This became clear to me from our first meeting in 1990, when I took part in the program that was the precursor for the 1992 National Endowment for the Humanities institute “Spain Today and Toward the Year 2000”. In the 1990 program, a small group of secondary level teachers of Spanish convened at The University of Virginia (my alma mater) for a two-week residential program of instruction on Spain’s current literary and political trends. Under David’s expert instruction and with the superb support of teaching assistant Mousumi B. Franks, our awareness, interest and expertise increased in multiple ways. David’s enthusiasm was contagious in the best sense: he didn’t wish to be the only knowledgeable person on any topic. His generosity of time, spirit and smiles made for a program that we would not forget. He erased the often-perceived barrier between university and secondary level teachers by reminding us that we are all in the match together to share the powerful tools of linguistic and cultural fluency. We promised to take his advice to read a few pages of native Spanish literature or journalism each day, no matter how overburdened our high school schedules. As he predicted, confidence, enjoyment and better preparation for class came as a result.

The 1992 NEH Spain Today program brought the opportunity for me to visit and study in Spain for the first time since 1972. I will long remember meeting authors Carmen Martin-Gaite and Rosa Montero as well as learning through film, journals, lectures and travels, all highlighted by David’s confidence in us as participants and the added bonus of instruction by Professor Fernando Operé and Dr. Jeff Bersett. Café Gijón will remain in memory as a favorite location for people watching as well as project discussions.

On a personal note, my husband and I are huge fans of the Dynamic Duo, David and Janna. We enjoy following their adventures, we admire their partnership, and we wish them as many celebrity encounters as they can manage. I smile at a 1996 memory of my husband saying “Guess who was on The Today Show—David and Janna”. Their VIP status is in the stratosphere, as is their care for their community, for women’s issues and for the common good.

David’s enduring leadership, example, talents and enthusiasm have provided me with great life lessons. How many of us are fortunate enough to have a personal superhero? All of us who have been friends, relatives, students or colleagues of our treasured David T. Gies.

Gracias, David y que te vaya fenomenal siempre.

Un abrazo fuertísimo,
Paulette Jones Morant

Dashing, Amusing, Vivid, Inspiring, Dignified, Teacher, Guru, Insightful, Ebullient, SPAIN!

By Sheila Cockey

Dashing, Amusing, Vivid, Inspiring, Dignified, Teacher, Guru, Insightful, Ebullient, SPAIN!

All descriptors of the one and only David T. Gies, these words do not begin to touch the man who has done so much with the language and culture of Spain, and for those who dedicate their lives to the study of all things related. His is human in the best sense of the word, caring about others, concerned for the good benefit of all, and a consummate friend. His sense of humor is obvious, even when he is serious.

Once our paths crossed, my path changed and became enriched. Fired by his example, I yearned for opportunities to improve my skills and knowledge, to grow beyond what I needed for my classroom. His work with the Center for the Liberal Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities provided me with opportunities to stretch and grow. Even though some of those projects are now over, I continue to be energized by his example and his enthusiasm.

Not one to be slowed down by something new, he embraced the possibilities of the world wide web and I will never forget his joy as he demonstrated the magic of his first iPhone. Incorporating technologies into his already rich and varied teaching, he keeps pace with changes and quickly adopts them. All of this enthusiasm came together to create ¡Cine con clase!, where he spearheaded the NEA project that produced a website of short clips of Spanish films for the free use of classroom teachers, supported by lesson plans and background information.

Exacting and challenging in the best sense of the words, those around him strive to be and do the best. He inspires true research, curiosity, and investigation, all with a dash of joy, excitement, and thrill at the result. Each of us who has had the honor to work and study with him have all reached far beyond where any of us expected.

And, I must not forget the really fun and playful side of David! He introduced me to the good wines, jamón, and cheeses of Spain, the joys of a croqueta, and the paradores of Spain. Sharing travel stories with him is a pleasure. There is always a lot of laughter that goes along with the serious stuff.

David, my sincerest appreciation for the work and the life you have dedicated to all of us. Godspeed as you move to a new chapter. Thank you for welcoming me to part of your life. I hope you have many trips planned for you and Janna and the grandkids!