It would be hard to pick a single word to define Joe

The moment I heard that Joe had passed away, my first thought was of Jean. I cannot think of him without her – they were that kind of couple, a partnership, lifelong mates, they belonged together.

Shortly before Jon and I left HMC in 2006, we talked Joe and Jean into putting their footprints and handprints in cement. They both gamely took off their shoes, smushed their hands and feet in, and then signed their names. I hope someday that block of cement is put out on campus, so that those who loved Joe can put their hands where he put his, and that future generations can be reminded of this remarkable couple who helped set in motion the Mobius strip that is HMC.

I also cannot think of Joe without thinking of the HMC family. The college and the campus that he helped build obviously meant a great deal to him, but he was most proud of the good works being done by Mudd graduates and faculty, not just in science and engineering, but in helping humankind. To him, that was his legacy.

As were Ann and Beth, his two extraordinary daughters with Jean (who had to share both of their parents with an entire campus full of people) and his four grandchildren.

It would be hard to pick a single word to define Joe, because he was fun and witty and musical and curious and so smart, so caring. But if I had to pick one word it would be integrity. The foundation of Harvey Mudd College was built with it.

I can hear Joe in my mind right now, playing his guitar and singing “It Ain’t the Money”, to the delight of a Saddlerock audience. I don’t know if I have the lyrics exactly right, but from what I remember, they sum up Joe Platt pretty well.

It ain’t the money
It’s the principle of the thing
It ain’t the money
There’s things that money just can’t buy
It ain’t the money
That makes the nucleus go round
It’s the philosophical ethical moral principle, of the thing.

Jean Strauss
Wife HMC president emeritus Jon Strauss