Monday, June 14, 2010

Pausing a moment

Clearly blogging during the last month of school is difficult.  Projects need grading, reports writing, class trips require planning, and the family requires time.  This year, Noa completed eighth grade which meant Pam and I experienced the whirlwind of "graduation."  Neither of us is ready for what will happen in four years.  There is so much to write about, I hardly know where to begin.  Fate, kindly, intervened today.

Ted Knauss passed away on June 9th.  There are only a handful of people who knew AND appreciated Ted.  I am lucky to count myself among them.  Ted was an intensely private person who enjoyed the intellectual challenge of running a school, good food, and baseball; not necessarily in that order.  I first met Ted when he interviewed me for a 7th grade position at Cedar Park Intermediate School in Beaverton.  Since I knew nothing about teaching 7th graders, and less about baseball, Ted must have seen something else in me that made him want to risk hiring me.  I must have done something correct that first year in Beaverton because on the last day of school with ten minutes remaining in last period, he showed up at the door to my classroom.

"Paul, could I speak with you a minute?"  Fortunately, I had already begun practicing a classroom management style which encouraged students to work so independently that it mattered not if I were in the room.  I stepped outside.  Ted, with an enigmatic smile asked, "Would you like to house sit for me?"  I replied that I couldn't answer because I didn't know if I would be working at Cedar Park the following year.  Ted replied, "You are not listening to me."  Finally, it dawned on me that this was his way of telling me I had a job.  Ted was like that.  He had a sensitive side that few saw and even fewer knew to treasure.

Ted was at his most excited when one of his teachers wanted to try something out of the ordinary.  In Ted's years at Cedar Park, we took kids to Ashland, Mt. St Helens, the Columbia River Gorge, and Mt. Hood Meadows.  We held food festivals, mock trials, held kids to high standards, and ourselves to even higher ones.  Cedar Park was one of the first schools in the country to be recognized by the US Department of Education as outstanding.  Those of us who worked at Cedar that year would never forget that designation.

After he left Beaverton, we heard from Ted now and then.  He would send a postcard from a baseball city somewhere.  Those he hired continued to work in education.  We became administrators, superintendents, coaches, counselors, and some remained excellent classroom teachers.  Each of us knew Ted would be proud of what we were accomplishing.

Ted's passions were good food and baseball.  He enjoyed getting people together to try different foods.  New recipes were always welcome.  If they contained lots of garlic, even better.  Ted's baseball knowledge was second to none.  He understood the game, knew the players, and could think of no finer way to spend three hours than eating hot dogs while watching a game.

In typical Ted fashion, even his passing was low-key.  There will be no service, no cause for donations, etc.  Some of us will make donations in Ted's honor, but, it will be because we choose to donate, not because the charity was a favorite of Ted's.  That was Ted's way.  He wanted us to find our own path and passion and follow them.  So, in Ted's honor, my family tried a new spicy dish tonight, others went out an ate a hot dog.

Ted would not want anybody to say as much about him as I have here.  Ted, consider this a background.      Friends will now understand why I am a bit sadder today.  I know you are following Stephen Strasburg and enjoying the amazing hot dogs at Nationals Stadium.


  1. I all ways knew Ted to be a nice man, willing to talk to anyone whom had questions.Will be miss. Dimas De Leon

  2. Lol, Dad would kill you for writing this.

    He had a picture of him/others accepting the Excellence in Education award on the White House lawn framed and hung over his desk for 20+years. The only personal type picture he EVER hung up. You could tell he was proud of that.

    Enjoyed reading this.

    Ted's kid #1

  3. Exactly the kind of tribute Ted would have approved, I'd say. Please know how much those of us in his small family circle appreciate learning that he had friends who admired this very singular,private person. I might be his "ex" wife, but we shared a lot in life: love of teaching, our children and grandchildren, travel, and antiques. THANK YOU.
    --judy knauss whitehead, Kennewick WA

  4. I agree with his son. Ted would hate that you wrote about him. I think you hit the nail on the head with such phrases as "only a handful knew AND appreciated Ted" and "a sensitive side that few saw and even fewer knew to treasure." He definitely lived a double life. But I also agree with Judy that we appreciate learning about this side of him. Thank you. Sally Brown, sister to Ted.

  5. My wife Linda and I have been friends of Ted for seven years. We carried on an interesting email correspondence, and he would stay at our house in San Francisco once, or sometimes twice, a year. When he first arrived, we would sit and talk for a bit, then we would go off on some trip, while Ted stayed with our dog and cat, both of whom he loved. We would then have another chat when we came home, I would help carry his many bags and boxes of "stuff" to his bright red VW bug, and off he'd go.

    While food, baseball, and family were his true loves, he had a great capacity for being interested in the lives of others. And his knowledge of the most arcane facts about virtually any geographic location you named was truly amazing.

    When there had been no reply to our last email, my wife had a premonition, and after much googling, I finally came across this blog that confirmed our fears. Perhaps some friend or family member could send the link to this website to the people in Ted's email address book. I think he might have had a wider circle of people in his life than we all realized.

    We appreciated reading all the warm and loving words in the other comments, and agree with everything except that we saw him as a very open person who freely shared the bits and pieces of his life.

    We would love to hear from others who knew him either via this comment post or directly at

    We are very sad, and will miss--and continue to talk about--the remarkable Ted Travel.

    Paul Castleman and Linda Blackstone