“Be good.”

on May 29 | in Featured | by

In January, Hollins hosted a memorial service celebrating the life and legacy of Louis D. Rubin, Jr., who died in November 2013. A writer, editor, publisher, educator, and literary critic, Rubin founded Hollins’ creative writing program. Below are excerpts from some of the remembrances delivered at the service.

Alumnae attending Rubin's memorial serviceAmong those who gave tributes were (seated, left to right): Elizabeth Seydel Morgan ’60, Christine Edwards ’67, Katie Letcher Lyle ’59, Mimi Ridenhour Fountain ’63, Sally Durham Mason ’59, and Liz Hopkins Roth M.A. ’67. Standing: Anne Bradford Warner ’67, M.A. ’70 and Nancy Head Beckham Ferris ’67.


The students who moved through Hollins when Louis was here were the students of that generation, the generation of Camelot, in a very real way. The freshmen who arrived on campus with Louis in 1957 were just 23 or 24 years old when Kennedy was killed in 1963, and perhaps planning to volunteer in the newly formed Peace Corps. The seniors who graduated the year Louis left had been freshmen in November of 1963 when Kennedy went to Dallas. It was a time when roles were changing and doors were cracking open and light was shining through them. In believing in those students, in showing them their strengths and their abilities in that new light, in pointing them toward a life of ideas and engagement that they maybe hadn’t considered, Louis was only an agent for the change. They, however, were the change. They went out and made the change happen. The wonderful writers and editors and scholars that Hollins produced during those years were themselves the change. They may look back on Louis, and Hollins, with gratitude, but they were the ones who made their new lives in a new America happen.
—Robert Rubin M.A. ’82, older son of Louis


For several years, Advanced Creative Writing Seminar met Wednesday evenings in Louis Rubin’s basement: third house on the right, heading up Faculty Row. If American literary sites were marked with official blue plaques, like those in the U.K., the basement entrance to that otherwise nondescript mid-century rancher would deserve one as much as the ancient, picturesque schoolhouse I’ve seen so marked in Salisbury, where William Golding (a 1962 Hollins writer-in-residence, one of many authors Louis brought to campus) had taught and perhaps encountered his Lord of the Flies characters’ prototypes. Those of us who read and thrashed out our work in the Rubin basement ranged from faculty and graduate students down to sophomores. —Christine Edwards ’67


Louis never told us good-bye. Remember, he always left us by saying: “Be good.” And he didn’t mean, Be nice young ladies, for of course he knew better. I am still learning all that he meant by those two words. Be good at what you do. Work and work until you are good at what you want to do.
—Lucinda MacKethan ’67


Note: Suzanne “Sudie” Victor Trazoff ’63 is in the investigative phase of compiling a collection of Louis Rubin’s letters to his students. If you have letters you would be willing to share publicly, please let her know at strazoff@lincoln.midcoast.com.

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