[On the flight to Miami . . . ] My thoughts gravitated to the man I was replacing. I remembered Pete Peterson as a tall man, probably six foot three, who wore rumpled shirts and tennis shoes and walked around stiff-backed and hunched forward. He had short gray hair, crew cut if I remembered right. His large rimless glasses weren't always clean. I remembered him speaking with a deep unmodulated voice and expressing himself with jerky hand movements which were very distracting but never threatening. His science was solid but not spectacular.
A few times, I'd seen Dr. Peterson overwhelmed by fits of enthusiasm. And a couple times in seminars, I remembered him disagreeing with the speaker and expressing himself in embarrassingly plain language. I had chatted with him once at a Christmas party given by the Physiology and Cellular Anatomy Department. He displayed a friendly, almost rural, sense of humor. He capped off almost every statement with a goofy laugh.
But we had never had another full conversation, although I had seen him many times by the fence at the side of the creek near our apartment building, smoking his pipe. He seemed like a good guy who would listen earnestly and would never betray a confidence. Now I felt bad for not having gotten to know him better.