It took my breath away when I read of Dr. Platt’s passing from this life to the next. I don’t think anyone fully realizes just how much impact one life can have on another until that life is gone. Just as Dr. Platt’s life had a positive and enduring influence on my life and the lives of his students, sadly, his absence will have an equally profound effect. It saddens me to think about how many students will not have the opportunity to experience the wisdom and encouragement of Dr. Platt.
I first met Dr. Platt in 1968 when I was a freshman embarking on a life-transforming experience of attending Harvey Mudd College. Little did I know that the apparently simple decision to attend Harvey Mudd College would change my life in a dramatically positive manner. The vision Dr. Platt shaped in the formation of Harvey Mudd College influenced my professional and personal lives in ways that I could have never predicted and for that I owe him a tremendous “Thank you, sir!”
On a more personal note, I recall that Dr. Platt routinely enjoyed a noon hour swim in the pool at Harvey Mudd. As a member of the Claremont-Mudd swim team, I shared this aquatic environment with him. We always had a common bond in the pool area. His personal example of a well-rounded athletic academician is inspirational to me to this day. I attribute the health-conscious life styles of Dr. and Mrs. Platt to a remarkable experience at my 35th class reunion in 2007. As I was reminiscing with my classmates I noticed the arrival of Dr. and Mrs. Platt. I really wanted to say hello and as I walked up, I said to Mrs. Platt, “Hi, I’m Jon ….” Before I could finish, Mrs. Platt said, “Hi, Jon. Of course, we remember you. How are Betsy and the boys?” Stunned is an understatement for my reaction. Aside from Christmas cards, I suspect it had been 25 years since our last face-to-face meeting. To remember me, my wife and our sons after all these years and the thousands of students was simply incredible. It’s this personal interest in the people surrounding Dr. and Mrs. Platt that made them so beloved to the Harvey Mudd community.
I am certain that the integrity, warmth and gentleness of Dr. Platt will live on in the hearts of his many grateful students. I am reminded of the Tuscarora proverb: “They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind.” Nonetheless, I will miss you tremendously.