A friend passed along an old photograph from a Civics class during our senior year, 1977, at the incomparable Miami Senior High [MHS]. I spy myself [ouch], friends I remember and others, who sadly I do not. That leaves only the guy in the red coat, thick glasses and a perpetual [trust me] smile unaccounted for.
His name was George C. Dorste. My limited googling turned up only one reference, the fact that he served as a Lieutenant in the Army during WWII. I know he passed away in 2003, because a search of the Miami Herald’s obituaries confirmed the date. What’s more I remember seeing his obituary in the paper awhile back and setting it aside. Of course, I have no idea where it may be now. Over the years, I would spot a letter to the Editor from him in the Miami Herald every now and then.
Here’s what I remember about him in reverse order of importance.
- He showed me great teacher-mercy. My inability to recite the steps in ‘how a bill becomes a law’ was correctly deduced by him to be attributable to the fact that I was pelted by crumpled papers, gum and one sock during the actual presentation.
- He gave me my favorite grade in high school, A-3-F. The latter two marks denoted effort and conduct. Wait, correction, he didn’t give them to me, I earned them.
- He loved his country.
While accurate, the last item I listed is an inadequate description for the positively joyous outpouring of pride, gratitude and heartfelt affection which Mr Dorste exhibited on a daily basis. He acted like someone who was exactly where he wanted to be, in a position to teach budding citizens how fortunate they were and what their responsibilities were for that good fortune. As a bonus, he taught us that a pretty girl was ‘hot tomato.’ He was one of those rare people who would be hard to describe without the use of the word nice.
When you look up the word civics, it speaks of the importance in the role of the citizen to government. Mr Dorste–possibly a 2nd generation American himself, like many of his MHS students–served in WWII, went to college on the GI bill, carved out a career as a public school teacher. Not coincidentally I would argue, he then found himself smack dab in the middle of teaching high school civics in a community enduring one of the greatest influxes of immigrants in American history.
George C. Dorste was a great citizen and a great example to his students. This is one belated thank you.