Phil, the Teacher

by Kevin Riley

Posted to the SFWA blog

Phil Klass was not only a great writer, he was a fantastic teacher. Phil left New York City in the mid 1960ís and went to teach at Penn State University, eventually becoming Professor of English and Comparative Literature. He taught many wonderful writing and literature courses, including a hugely popular lit course on science fiction. I used to think of him as a missionary to the mundane masses. I got to know him there when I was president of the Penn State SF Society and he was our faculty advisor.

Upon his retirement from PSU he and Fruma moved to Pittsburgh—I was able to get to know Phil much better, and it was a delight. They both became cherished members of the Pittsburgh SF community, attending our club activities and becoming perennial program participants at our local conference, Confluence. Phil and Fruma are great storytellers and having them at any event made it much more fun.

It was very gratifying to witness the William Tenn revival of the last several years—SFWA Author Emeritus, a Noreascon IV GoH, and GoH at several regional and local cons. People in other parts of the country were getting to know the Phil we in the ĎBurgh knew and loved. Perhaps best of all, having his stories and essays back in print through the NESFA Press books Immodest Proposals, Here Comes Civilization, and Dancing Naked gives many people the chance to know the fabulous writing talent Phil possessed. Iím proud to have played a small part in that endeavor by having designed and laid-out the dust jackets for those books.

Good-bye Phil, Iíll miss you. Fruma and Adina, youíre in my thoughts.

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