Dr. Damjana Bratuz
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Gary Tucker (MASTER OF ARTS, MUSIC 1982, PH.D. 1995)

Gary Tucker

In my reminiscences about knowing Damjana two things, I think, stand out: kindness and intellectual challenge. First of all, I am fortunately not confined to reminiscences. The Tucker family continues to benefit from Damjana's thoughtfulness and friendship. And the books, magazine articles, newspaper clippings, postcards, and brochures that are part of her gifts continue to challenge me (not the least by often forcing me to keep my floundering Italian in some serviceable shape!)

I could easily recall Damjana's many acts of generosity and graciousness to Nancy and me and our two daughters: the dinners and the picnics, the gifts for which the cards and wrapping paper were chosen with the same intelligence and taste as the gifts themselves. Such stories would all be familiar to her other friends, for I know they have also felt her generosity, her intelligence, and her taste.

I shall, instead, recall one incident on the "intellectual challenge" side, a brief encounter from the early days of our friendship that stuck in my mind. I remember it always with a twinge of embarrassment, for I certainly don't like being duplicitous with those who trust me – and yet I also didn't like to reveal to her the true size of my ignorance.

Well, on this day early in 1979, shortly after I began working with Damjana, I was just entering Talbot College after lunch as she was leaving the building. In great excitement she asked me if I could come to Waterloo immediately; Ernst Gombrich was speaking, and surely I would love to hear him. Well, yes I would love to, but unfortunately I had something on later that afternoon. Ah, che peccato!, and she was gone.

Had this encounter been less rushed, would I have had the courage to say Ernst who? I hope so, but I fear not. More to the point, however, I had in fact luckily caught the last name, Gombrich. Thus armed, I was in D. B. Weldon a few minutes later, and by the end of the day was tasting the glories of Art and Illusion. So Damjana led me to Gombrich. And so to Paolo Soleri. And so to Karl Popper. And so to Marino Marini. And so to how many others and their ideas?

Thus, Damjana has challenged me – and continues to do so – more that any other person I have met, and this has been her greatest kindness.

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