Thank You Lillemor

On the passing of Lillemor Tottie, 1934-2023.

As the decades pass you forget about your old teachers from school. The ones you remember the longest are the really bad ones and the really good ones. Lillemor was really good.

I was her pupil in the mid-80s, from ages 12 to 15, a time in many people’s lives when they are a pain both to themselves and to people around them. Lillemor was around 50 then and had already taught history and Swedish for a quarter century. She had an unquestionable friendly authority about her. There was nothing coercive about it, but there was order in her classroom. She took us seriously, and she expected us to take her class seriously.

When my old friend the philosophy lecturer heard about her passing, he commented that she had a pleasantly aristocratic air. I think he meant a bookish breeding, not a feudal one. There were other teachers who clearly just went to work because they had to pay their bills. Not Lillemor. She could have done all kinds of other things, but she taught school because that was what she really liked to do.

I’ve walked in Lillemor’s footsteps. I didn’t become an historian, but I do study the past through archaeology, and I teach, and I write. For years she and I would meet on the commuter train and talk for 25 minutes on our way to town. We never lacked for subjects of interest.

Teachers have enormous influence over a society’s future. Lillemor exerted a particularly strong influence for the good during her long career. I’m grateful that Swedish society gave me her for a teacher at a formative age. Thank you, Lillemor!


Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

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