es, there were letters. Dozens of them. National, local and state leaders, educators and other well-wishers owing at least some part of their success to their former speech teacher expressing their gratitude in writing as a keepsake for "Papa Joe's" retirement.
...Among Professor O'Rourke's many memorable maxims were: "No matter how thin they make the pancake, it still has two sides;" "When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on;" "The rules of a college debate tournament are such that if Jesus Christ were going up against Judas Iscariot, the betting odds would be on Judas;" "Truth is a rare commodity and therefore should only be used sparingly;" and "God made the Irish first."
With the exception of the latter, all these precepts have stood me in good stead in later life.
David E. Kendall '66
...Joe's example lured me into teaching. He infused his instruction with such a sense of excitement and promise that I never doubted but that I must teach. I am not so presumptuous as to think I can recreate in my classroom the magic he performed in his, but I shall always encourage among my students, as he did among his, the faculty of critical appraisal. He taught me how to think rather than what to think.
For that gift I shall always be grateful.
Jim Bond '64
...Your push to be a better communicator, your enthusiasm for the arts of public speaking and persuasion, your concern for the issues we students confronted...all of these things shaped our minds and our talents. From one individual, a person whose life you changed, thank you.
David P. Lewis '81
Faculty members like you are rare. They shape the colleges with which they are affiliated. You have touched and influenced the lives of scores of young men during more than three and a half decades at Wabash. It is a privilege to know you, to have learned from you, and to have debated for you. Thank you, Joe, and thank Bev for all the ways she has made your job easier and all the contributions she has made to the debate program over the years.
John C. Moorhouse '65, Carroll Professor