Harvey Gordon Segal 1927 - 2011

On Monday evening I leaned over his hospital bed and said, "If you would stand up, big guy, it would make moving you to a new bed easier."

"Stand up, stand up, stand up, walk out!" responded Harvey, his eyes still closed but his voice strong and sure. Immediately after his collapse on Friday at home, Harvey had been unresponsive. Over the weekend he had brief periods of wakefulness, and on Sunday evening he could answer a few questions. By Monday evening he was regularly answering questions with short responses. Although his blood pressure remained unstable, by all external appearances he was much better than he had been over the weekend.

Harvey instructing Kolonia Elementary School students on Earth Day 1993

The last time I had seen him on his feet was on a visit just after the turn of the new year. He had stood up to do shallow knee bends at his desk. His legs were weak, and he accomplished the knee bends primarily by holding the desk with both hands and using his upper body strength to raise and lower himself. During the daytime Harvey was almost always at his desk, often writing. I knew Harvey disliked hospitals, I knew he wanted to walk out.

Harvey in a discussion with Dr. Richard Womack, spring 1993

Harvey had been hired in 1964 under the then Trust Territory government as a teacher at Utwe Elementary School in Kosrae. Within a couple of years he was the elementary education coordinator on Kosrae. By 1968 he had been tapped to lead an in-service teacher education program on Pohnpei - the Micronesian Teacher Education Center.


Then, as he said, in 1970 MTEC decided to start admitting graduated high school seniors into a general liberal arts degree program. MTEC became the Community College of Micronesia. Harvey would transition into the lead position at the newly formed Ponape Teacher Education Center - PONTEC. PONTEC would continue to serve in-service teachers.

In 1978 PONTEC, under Harvey's guidance and leadership, would become the division of teacher education at the college with Harvey as the division chair. While the efforts represented the work of teams of people at the time, Harvey was effectively the founding father of teacher education in Micronesia.

14 May 2008 Harvey retires from active service

Over the next 30 years Harvey continued to convey a science methods vision that included an emphasis on outdoor science education, a vision echoed in the present day ethnobotany and physical science courses I teach. The best place to learn science is outside in the real world.


Over his desk is a picture of the Yankee Clipper, a "semester-at-sea" forerunner on which Harvey was the science instructor. Also above the desk is a picture of Pitcairn island, which he visited and remained an important touchstone memory for Harvey. At that desk my son listened to the World War II veteran give a first hand view of the world at that time.

Although he was in critical condition, I could not help but be hopeful that his body was still finding the ability to mend itself that Monday evening. Thus the news of that night was all the more crushing - Harvey slipped away in the small hours of the 11th of January 2011. 

Tuesday I had a single class, and most appropriately the activity was an outdoor hike into the forest to learn about the plants. Mid-hike I paused and shared with the class a little about Harvey, his work in Micronesia, and his approach to science education. I was sad but comforted in having the privilege to share knowledge with students in an environment and setting that Harvey also loved.

Shrue and Pastor Eden Skilling, evening service on the 12th of January.

Back during the 1992 - 93 school term Harvey encouraged a then new and single instructor at the college to consider teaching a summer class at the then Kosrae extension center. As a result of teaching on Kosrae, that instructor would wind up marrying a distant cousin of Harvey's wife. Three bundles of joy would be added over the coming years, Harvey would become a treasured friend.

 Abigail and Cindy.

On the evening of the 13th a memorial service was held followed by a gathering of friends and family at his home. The children and grandchildren who are growing up here on Pohnpei sang for the gathering at the house. The next morning the family accompanied Harvey on his final journey to Kosrae. The author of Kosrae: The sleeping lady awakens now returns to be laid to rest in her soil.

I will always be in his debt, he was a mentor at times, a friend always, a colleague, and a part of my extended family. I will always miss his presence and guidance, my thoughts and prayers remain with his family.

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