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February 7, 2008

In Memory, Gerhard Neubeck, 1918 - 2008


I knew Gerry for 18 years, since I arrived in Minnesota. He was already retired by the time I came, but his stamp on the department was legendary. One of his favorite activities was to participate in the pot luck luncheon that welcomed the new graduate students at the beginning of the academic year. He would always have a poem ready ... witty, pithy, and a bit corny ... but endearing. Gerry, you will be missed. Here's more information about his remarkable journey...

from the Family Social Science website: fsos.cehd.umn.edu

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our dear friend, colleague, and mentor Dr. Gerhard (Gerry) Neubeck. Gerry began his professional career at University of Minnesota in 1948 after already experiencing a lifetime of fortune and tumult.

As a Jewish teenager from Dortmund, Germany, Gerry nearly qualified for the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games in the 3000m run. Soon after, he realized he had to leave his home country. After immigrating to the United States with his wife Ruth in the late 1930s, Gerry became one of the nation’s foremost leaders in the fields of human sexuality and marriage and family therapy (MFT). He served terms as president both of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) and the American Association of Marriage and Family Counselors (AAMFT). After graduating from Columbia University, he went on to accomplish a number of ‘firsts’ in his field. In the 1960s he taught the first college course on human sexuality.

Profiled in Look magazine, this course gained Gerry scores of attention for his work. He is credited for being the first to use group sessions for marriage therapy and also was the first to pen a book on the topic of extramarital affairs. In 1972 he joined the department of Family Social Science, where for many years he ran the marriage and family therapy program. Over the course of his tenure, Gerry was pivotal in training countless MFT experts including David Olson and Jim Maddock.

After retiring in 1986, Gerry and his wife Ruth spent much of their time keeping busy with their long-time hobbies. Gerry was a prolific writer of poetry and Ruth a potter (dubbed the “Poet and the Potter). Some of Gerry’s poetry has been published and crossed over into the academic world to appear in textbooks focusing on family relations. Since his retirement, Gerry has remained a regular around the department. He read his poetry at everything from new graduate student welcoming functions to faculty retirement parties. Gerry said during a 2004 interview: “Family social science has always stood on the strength of great faculty. Not only the talent of the faculty—including multiple NCFR and AAMFT presidents—but also the intimacy. The faculty has always been very close.� Gerry will be greatly missed.

Excerpt from Gerry’s poem, Affairs of the Heart, published in 1998:

I want to find me
that I lost long, long ago
when I was a child
in a world that was all grown up.
It would be nice indeed.
To become acquainted again
With that me, the me of my youth.

Here is a link to the obituary that ran in today's Star Tribune, complete with a photo of him running in the trials for the 1936 Olympics.

Posted by hgroteva at 6:30 PM

February 9, 2008

Latté Express

coffee cup.jpg

1 cup of milk, heated 2:20 in the microwave on high
1 tbsp. of Taster's Choice instant coffee, dark roast

Add coffee to hot milk. Stir until frothy. Enjoy.

This is totally sacreligious for any coffee purist, but it's a) convenient - no need to leave home and use that car; b) easy - pour, stir; and c) inexpensive - probably about 50 cents a cup, instead of $3.50 at you-know-where. I was surprised at how good it tasted and think it's not too far off of the real thing. Of course, you can add as much coffee as you want to suit your taste, and you can use decaf or regular, skim or 2%, etc. etc. Gratuities may be sent c/o Inner Geek.

Posted by hgroteva at 10:11 AM

February 12, 2008

Encounters with Self-Confidence

For the past 2 weeks, I've hired a young man (referred by the staging consultant who was referred by my prospective listing agent) to do some work around the house, preparing it to sell. He's a cheerful, energetic, self-confident guy -- eager to take anything on. Just about anything I asked him to do, he said -- "sure, no problem." Then as he got into doing things, it became clear that he was over his head on a few of them. He was sure he could bleach a water spot out of the hardwood floors. Not. He bid the painting of the hallway walls -- I thought that would include baseboards and door jambs, but no. (Why would you paint all the walls but not the door jambs that had paint from the same vintage?) He thought he had the tile countertops all figured out, but once he tried to work out the geometric pattern, he realized how complex it would be. I'm actually quite glad that he signalled his discomfort; I removed that from our agreement and have already found someone else to do it. He was also very confident about the timetable he was working on. However, everything ended up taking about twice as long as he projected.

SO -- a good example where unrealistic self-confidence can be an asset to the person -- sort-of. He ended up not doing the whole job, but what he finally did was good (albeit late, and with much feedback). If he had hemmed and hawed around what he could do and how quickly, I might not have hired him. In the end, he did much of what he agreed, and earned most of the money we agreed on (because of several add-ons). A good example of where self-confidence, even when it's a bit unrealistic, may be more adaptive (for him, at least) than a more realistic self-appraisal and self-presentation. Hmmm.

What did he win? He got the job, and partial pay, and worked at his own pace anyway.
What did I win? I got a job, partially done and not on schedule, for a decent price.
What did he lose? He lost my respect. I probably wouldn't hire him again or recommend him to others.
What did I lose? time and hassle

So for him, any gains may be short-term because they won't lead to future work, at least from me. But he knows I'm moving out of state, so why should he care?
I'll be talking with my social psychologist friends about this one.

Posted by hgroteva at 5:25 AM

February 15, 2008

Friday Cat Blogging: Cat Lovers

Shadow + MadKenzie Feb08.jpg

In celebration of Valentine's Day, it seems only appropriate to check in on one of our pairs. Shadow (left) and MacKenzie are definitely a two-some. Although they look a lot like each other, they are physically very different. Shadow is lean, muscular, angular, and a bit skittish (at first). (When he settles in with that loud purr, it always feels like a real victory.) MacKenzie has extremely soft fur and is very delicate. After the lights go out, she's always the first to sidle up for a pet, but Shadow is usually no more than 10 seconds behind her. He frequently climbs all over her in order to get his own "spot" - sometimes she stands her ground, and sometimes she goes on to other things. But the two of them are inseparable, consistently. They had a good Valentine's Day together.

Posted by hgroteva at 5:41 AM

February 17, 2008


Tenderness - that's the word that comes to mind when I reflect on Gerry Neubeck's memorial service this afternoon. The atrium of McNeal Hall was packed to overflowing. There was (Minnesota - understated) joy in celebrating his rich life and his wonderful family, but of course it was a bittersweet occasion because of the loss. Music and poetry were the media for communication - wonderful music. His granddaughter played "Meditation" from "Thaïs" on the violin -- a beautiful solo... one that would make the angels weep. His grandson played a wonderful guitar solo. I loved the interplay between him and his Dad, who was standing aside and just behind him. They stole loving glances at each other throughout the piece -- more tenderness. Gerry touched many lives in a positive way ... his spirit will live on for generations. His life has made this world a better place. Rest in peace. (Although his clear instructions, in one of his last poems, was that we should dance on his grave, whoop it up, and celebrate life!) L'Chaim!

Posted by hgroteva at 6:00 PM

February 22, 2008

Before ...

Before - peninsula.jpg

Before - sink.jpg

Posted by hgroteva at 9:13 PM

February 24, 2008

Heard on SNL

Heard on SNL last night (welcome back, writers!)

"Did you hear that 50% of American marriages end in divorce?"

"Well, the other half end in death."

Posted by hgroteva at 11:32 AM

February 25, 2008


During 1.jpg

During 2.jpg

Posted by hgroteva at 5:18 AM