A.R. “Pete” Diamond, Jr.: 1950-2011In Memoriam | Wed Oct 12, 2011 | 6:00am
Pete Diamond was a renaissance man in the truest sense of the word. He earned his PhD in religious studies from the University of Cambridge in England and taught classes on these topics at Westmont College, All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Montecito, and Santa Barbara City College’s Adult Education Program. But he was also a full-time faculty member of the Computer Applications Department in the credit division at SBCC since 2003.
He was a religious scholar and a computer geek. He was an artist, photographer, musician, boogie boarder, poet, gardener, lover of science fiction, and friend of all animals, especially cats.
To get a true picture of this beloved man, it’s best to hear from people with whom he shared much of his life.
Dr. Dwight “Rip” Van Winkle says the following:
Pete and I began our friendship in college. Although we attended different universities, both of us were student leaders in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I was impressed by Pete’s intelligence and gentleness, and his easy acceptance of people.
We renewed our friendship at Dallas Theological Seminary and then next met up at Cambridge University in Cambridge, England. Although I studied Isaiah and he studied Jeremiah, we had the same supervisor. He met with his supervisees eight times a year for about an hour at a time. It was up to the students to find a significant problem, read everything written on that problem in German, French, and English in the last century, and to demonstrate that they could solve the problem better than it had been solved. Cambridge provided Pete the freedom and resources he needed to thrive. I think this was one of the happiest times in Pete’s life.
Pete was an excellent scholar. He was always curious. He rejected easy answers and demanded that theories fit facts.
Pete published numerous articles and books on the Book of Jeremiah. Other scholars regarded him as an international expert in the interpretation of the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible).
Mindy Mass, his colleague and the department chair of the Computer Applications Department at SBCC, has this to say about Pete:
I met Pete in August 1995, when I moved to Santa Barbara to teach with Carol Diamond at SBCC. So for the first few years, I only knew Pete as Carol’s husband. But little by little, I learned of his reputation as an outstanding computer instructor, both at Adult Ed and as a training consultant to businesses.
So I eventually hired Pete to become a full-time faculty member in our department in 2003, after he’d worked with us for several years on a part-time basis. Carol had nothing to do with it; I know she had mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, we needed someone of Pete’s talents, creativity, and temperament. On the other hand — well, they were married.
I think I speak for everyone who worked with Carol and Pete when I say that they figured out a way to work together in a totally professional way. And I had the joy of being part of an amazing collaborative team.
So let me say a few things about Pete as a professor, colleague, and member of the SBCC community:
His students loved him. He had groupies who would follow him from class to class. When I would have the opportunity to observe his teaching, I always learned something new. He encouraged students to never give up. His famous expression was always, “Don’t go to the dark side.” He meant, don’t let this seemingly incomprehensible topic get you down. Just hang in there, and you will get it, I promise.
As I indicated, Pete and Carol and I were a team. No matter how hard the problem we were facing, Pete would keep us from going to the dark side and would help us think outside the box to solve the problem.
Pete was also a well-respected member of many college-wide committees, where he was known as someone who always asked the hard questions that needed to be asked.
There were so many others who had such wonderful experiences with Pete: as a colleague, scholar, professor, and friend. Here are a few other personal remembrances, culled from emails Carol received:
“He was not only gracious, collaborative, gentle, and prodding at once, he was also a brilliant thinker and an amazing polymath.”
“Pete was the great specialist on the history and times of the great Prophet Jeremiah. In fact, I feel he identified himself with this hero. He became ‘our Jeremiah’ because he incarnated in himself the moral principles of this great prophet. He nourished our needs to understand our modern world. His unusual candor and interpretation benefited all of us.”
“He is a beautiful and unforgettable human and has always inspired us to appreciate the mysteries of life and grace.”
All of us who knew and loved Pete have had our lives enriched for knowing him. We will miss him more than can possibly be expressed. But we will try hard to “not go to the dark side.” Pete wouldn’t have wanted that.