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News & Blogs: In Memoriam

Ecolint community loses former Chemistry teacher Les Wise

mercredi, 20 juin 2018   (6 Comments)
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Les Wise, Chemistry teacher at LGB for 34 years, passed away in the early morning of Monday 4 June, 2018. He died peacefully at home surrounded by his family. Many in the Ecolint community reached out to the Alumni Office with the news. Eric Anthony, who was his colleague for many years, sent in the following words: 

"In 1970, I interviewed a small number of candidates selected from a very large number of applicants for a Chemistry teacher post at Ecolint. One of these was a young man called Leslie Wise. Somehow, at the appointed time, we contrived to go to different locations.

This was our first misunderstanding.

It turned out to also be our last misunderstanding in a period of almost fifty years as colleagues and friends.

At the interview he came over as a keen, well balanced young man. His previous employer had given him a very strong recommendation, and so I had no hesitation in recommending him to the Director of the School. Perhaps above all I felt that here was someone with whom I could work in total harmony, and this assessment proved to be correct throughout the many years we worked together. He adapted well to teaching an unfamiliar programme in a new and very different School, and in very little time became a much admired and respected teacher. He always gave me 100 per cent support as Department Head, and I will always be grateful for this. It is my belief that the Chemistry Department was held in high esteem by students and parents, and there is no doubt that Les played an important part in this.

One of his major characteristics was his exceptional sense of humour which was always in evidence. I would like to quote just one, in which he managed to sound just like John Cleese.

He was talking to his class about water pollution and I was next door listening to him.

He explained how mankind's activities ultimately resulted the widespread death of the fish. These then decayed and sank to the bottom of the water.

A student interrupted saying ' But Mr Wise, dead fish inflate and float on the surface of the water '
Les calmly replied ' Not if you poke them with a sharp stick !'
Prolonged student laughter was a frequent event the Les's classes.

Les was always a very sociable person, and his friends were numerous in the international community of Geneva. Invitations to meals at the Wise's were frequent and always very well received. Les's culinary skills were exceptional.

Les was a 100 per cent family man. Totally dedicated to his wife Isabel, and daughter and son, Kirstie and Iain. Our thoughts are with them.

Les was a great man, a great teacher, and a great friend. Thank you Les for all you gave to me and many others. We shall always remember you."

Comments...

Rebeca Alcantara says...
Posted jeudi, 20 septembre 2018
Dear Mr. Wise! Many of my fondest memories of Ecolint are of his chemistry labs, in which, as Mr. Anthony points out, laughter was as much of a fixture as bunsen burners. Mr. Wise not only transmitted his love of chemistry and introduced me to a fascinating world of experimental science, he also inspired me as a teacher. I have often invoked his spirit when faced with a group of unresponsive students (make it fun!) and marveled at his ability to make each class a brand-new adventure when of course, with professional hindsight, I realise how difficult it is to pretend you don't know what will happen when you add iodine to starch (for the nth time). In addition to his duties in the classroom and the boarding house, Mr. Wise also drove the schoolbus from Versoix for a time, and even managed to be cheerful at 7:40 a.m.! He truly embodied the Ecolint ethos of unpretentious excellence, with respect for and interest in each individual. My deepest sympathy for Mrs. Wise, Kirstie, and Iain.
Jennifer L. McDermott says...
Posted samedi, 4 août 2018
What a wonderful photo to remember both Les and Isabel! All four members of the Wise family were woven through my years at Ecolint and will always be part of the place; it's hard to imagine Les is gone. He was a wonderful man. I didn't go the chemistry route, but I remember messing about with beakers and goggles and growing cobalt blue crystals in his seventh grade class. It was my first experience with scientific equipment and I never realized that would come with so much laughter.
Alejandro Rodriguez-Giovo says...
Posted dimanche, 24 juin 2018
Although we overlapped professionally for a number of years, I did not have the pleasure of working closely with Les, as we taught in different departments (English, in my case). However, in the course of the interaction I had with him, which was always rewarding, I found him to be consistently modest, gentle, good-natured, witty and (yes, he did live up to his family name) wise. I came to see him as a discreet pillar of the Secondary School, unassuming but reassuringly solid. His memory will be cherished by all those whose professional paths he crossed.
Leila A. Hans (Belkora) says...
Posted vendredi, 22 juin 2018
I'm sad to hear this. I just pulled out my chemistry lab notebook from 1979 and saw page after page of rather dry chemical equations. Why then did I love his class so much? My eye landed on the words potassium permanganate and suddenly I remembered not only the purple crystals but also the stories from his school days. And the stories I can tell from his class, like when he extinguished a small fire with the closest thing handy--the grades notebook--leaving a circular hole in the middle of it. He had a great rapport with the students and taught us a lot. How lucky we were.
Alvaro Timotheo says...
Posted vendredi, 22 juin 2018
RIP Mr. Wise, you are a fantastic mentor who showed us all how to appreciate and love chemistry the way you did. You are a large piece of the pie as to why I became a Chemical Engineer. Thank you and you will be missed.
Christy Agbavwe says...
Posted vendredi, 22 juin 2018
I'm very saddened to hear that Mr. Wise has passed away. He was a great chemistry teacher. I learned a lot from him during my years at Ecolint. He will be sorely missed.

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