Ann Oelschlager: [KSPC news] I was a friend of Jos at Pomona and always loved his wit, his outspoken irreverence, and his enthusiasm for people and ideas. To have an encounter with Jos -- even in the dining hall kitchen -- was always to feel that one was worthy of the energy of the most charismatic person on campus.
In a world where the insularity of thought was sometimes numbing, he constantly made me question my own taken-for-granted viewpoints. And to be a man who could turn such a critical eye on the world, but also have such an affection for people and such a sense of humor! ... he was truly one of a kind.
Anna Mariz: I was in ML's politics class that he lectured on the culture wars in our senior year. Jos was so charming and wonderful and could express himself so well on paper. All his essays bring me right back to the dining hall--teasing and flirting with him. Once I told him he had to take his teabag out of his cup (he was leaving it in there while he was drinking it), and of course he thought this was silly and asked why. I knew that saying that it was the "proper" thing to do would not go too far with him, so I told him that the tea kept brewing, producing an inconsistent cup of tea and a less pleasurable tea-drinking experience. He came back with "What, you can't deal with change!" He won that debate. And now I can't use a teabag without thinking of him. Sometimes I even leave it in my cup, just to prove that I can deal with change.
I still remember the first time I met Jos. He was living in that microscopic room in the attic of Smiley. He had fallen prey to that too common mistake of overdecorating--he found two sofas somewhere and moved them into that tiny space. Perhaps you think I am being unforgiving in my "overdecorated" assessment, but he had arranged the sofas so that one could not walk anywhere in the room. He had created a cushiony sofa nest that touched all four walls of that minute room. Certainly a faux pas in the decorating community, but it really was very fun and very cozy. And you can imagine that every time I called my brother (who was living down the fall), I just had to ask what Jos was up to.
And I still think of how sweet it was for him to knit my brother a hat. Paul loved that hat. He thought it was so cool. And it is. How often does a 23 year old send handmade woolens to his pal?
I called Jos in June. I wanted him to come and work at the J Paul Getty, where I worked at the time. He teased me and said that every six months, one of the Marizes called him up and offered him a job. I guess both Paul and I appreciated that he could pick up technical computer skills the same way we do. He said he was happy where he was.
Deborah S: I want to let you know that Jos was an important person in my life, and that I will always remember him -- as a dynamic, brilliant, caring person -- a little crazy, and with his heart on fire for life.
I can think of a thousand little stories of Jos and how wonderful he was. We went climbing at the Pitzer climbing wall together; he tried to teach me to play the bass so I could fill in for him in his ska band (he was too busy with schoolwork but didn't want to let the band down); and he wore black converse high-tops long after they had gone out of style.
Jos used to call my name out across the dining hall when he saw me, and it made me feel so good - to know that there was someone in the world who wanted to say hi to me badly enough to yell my name through Frary. And better yet, he never called me "Deb," when he shouted across the dining hall. He always had some funny nickname. And that made it seem even better, because someone cared enough about me to think of me as something other than Deb. When it was sunny, we would sit outside, on the steps beneath the pine tree. I used to try to convince Jos that Pomona was a great place, and he would never agree with me. I tried to argue with Jos about a few things, but we never got very far because he would say something funny and we would get off topic.
I always imagined that he would change the world. It doesn't seem possible that he's gone, because he had more life in him than 20 people.
Evan Bilstrom: I was an acquaintance of Jos's from Pomona and was lucky to have known your son. He was one of the most genuine and friendly people I have ever known.
My strongest memories of Jos revolve around conversation. Every time I saw him, he would ask, "How does this glorious day find you, Evan?", or words to that affect. The ease with which he reached out to people is something I greatly admire in him; a quality I wished I too could possess. And I think, perhaps, that this is the best way for me to keep a part of Jos alive, to reach out myself by his example.
No matter how short his time in this world, know that Jos has touched the lives of others. It is the world's loss that Jos is no longer a part of it.
Hope Neighbor: Jos and I had a policy implementation class together in the fall of 1995. I was just coming back from a year in France and did not feel so 'adjusted' to life in the States. Jos's wonderfully dry remarks about the state of things in class and otherwise, as well as his amazing intelligence, were fantastic for helping me to recognize that every classmate was not a standard, cookie-cutter student nor American. At the end of that semester, Jos gave a great presentation on a public policy issue. The subject has escaped me, BUT his presentation is the only one that I can remember. What animation, what fun! Jos was certainly not a typical person, and thank god for it!
Zany, brilliant, alternative, witty, inquisitive -- though each of these adjectives are "big", I don't hesitate to use them in describing Jos. The best endorsement of his personality, I believe, is that I smile instantly when think of him. I will dearly miss Jos, as will countless other Sagehens who knew him less well but appreciated his sense of humor nearly as much.
Leslie P: I met Jos in David Menefee-Libey's policy implementation class my first semester at Pomona. I had just transferred and Jos had just returned from Alaska. The two of us were just about the only ones who spoke in class -- and we regularly challenged each other to vicious debates. Jos was one of the only people who would not let me get away with my sweeping policy pronouncements. It was the start of a wonderful friendship. Throughout my junior and senior year, Jos and I were regular dinner companions. Our conversations spanned from Judaism and the Christian Right to Milton Friedman to "nookie" and new ploys to lure unsuspecting women to his massage table.
Jos's ability to find the absurd in everyday activities, his wicked sense of humor, his penchant for finding new adventures, his thoughtful opinions about politics, his irrational opinions about politics, his exuberance, his irreverence -- when I think about all of his wonderful qualities, he still makes me laugh.
Jos was one of my favorite people and I feel priviledged to have known him.
Gordon Stott: [KSPC D.J.] I went to college with Jos, on-and-off, for '92-'97. I knew Jos more as a mentor than as a friend. From a distance, I marveled over him. We came in contact often and enjoyed each other's company -- but we were clearly operating on different levels. I hope someday to operate at his level. Let me try and explain why.
Jos was not just "plugged in" or connected to everything and everyone around him -- he seemed to become the connection that exists between people, ideas, and things. It is very rare that you see this type of energy in a person. To become equal parts facilitator and creator is truly "complex and dangerous" -- like his knitting site suggests.
I don't know if you are searching for answers. Probably both yes and no. I want to assure you that Jos is inside all of us who knew and understood him. He is still doing what he always does, trying to show us that life can, when lived right, become a series of life-affirming choices. Nothing less.
Harriet Berman: I am the mother of a former roommate, Jessica. Jos was the quickest knitting student I ever had. He was a self-taught knitter for the most part. I came in as his craft was on the brink of taking off. I know he sat with Jessica for many hours refining what he had learned on his own -- but she was a lefty and that made teaching a challenge for her -- so when I arrived he was ready to go -- and I just helped him figure out how to knit faster.
I know he left footsteps that cannot be filled -- but which are inspiring to all those he touched. His footsteps are a guide for those of us left behind -- if we can follow them, then I know he will take us to good places.
[Jessica and Harriet teach Jos how to knit.]
Dax Oliver: [KSPC news] [ antichrist story] I went to college with Jos and was his roommate in DC during the summer of `96. Although I regretfully hadn't had any contact with him for about two years, he had a strong impact on my life.
I remember one day Jos inviting me to sit and talk with him on a sunny wall near the Coop at Pomona. It was September and he had just come back from his year off in Alaska. I had just come back from a harrowing summer working in Costa Rica. We swapped tales of our travels and talked about how our experiences had made us appreciate Pomona so much more than before. It felt good to know that I wasn't alone in my changed perspective.
Although my time in Costa Rica affected me greatly, my troubles there had convinced me not to travel anymore. But while living with Jos in DC, his numerous Alaska stories got me thinking about it once more. Because of him, I went to Alaska myself in the Spring and Summer of 1997. That set off a cascade of events that severely altered the course of my life. How different it would be today if I hadn't known him.
But what will stick in my mind most about Jos, perhaps, are the times at Pomona when I would run into him while finding myself in a long mood of thinking that life was dark and depressing. Suddenly I'd have to remind myself,
"Damn, Dax, get on the ball! There's so much to do in this world!"I think he had that effect on a lot of people.
Petrina Grube: The time I hung out most with Jos was in Policy Implementation, when we both sat in the back of the class (my senior year) discussing our projects and joking with our professor, David Menefee-Libey. Having Jos there made the class always lively and amusing, as was true whereever Jos was involved!
He also convinced me, in one of our morning conversations before class, that I shouldn't leave college without taking an economics class, which I proceeded to do. And actually, I continued on to study environmental economics just this past year in New Zealand. Jos's wit and wisdom have touched so many people.
Muzy Huq: The first time I met Jos was during filming for Chris McCamic's senior project. That was probably the only enjoyable day of filming, almost all due to Jos's presence. He was a nice guy, and he will be missed.
David Good: He was truly a unique individual that was never afraid of being exactly who he was. He passed in and out of my life during my Pomona years and was only predictable in his unpredictability. Pomona was somewhat heterogeneous in its economic or social makeup but, in actuality, was very homogenous in its students' personality types. Jos was one of the few students that I felt defied description, that could not be pigeonholed.
Ray N: I met Jos sometime during my sophomore year at Pomona. Like so many people who met Jos, I immediately liked him and we were soon good friends. Our conversations at dinner would often range from Republicans to medieval warfare to Froot Loops and back again within a half-hour.
At Pomona, I discovered that the groundskeepers would saw up a fallen tree into logs and toss them in a pile behind the soccer field. It was big overgrown pile of eucalyptus, white pine, some juniper, and some other things I couldn't identify. It was in an undeveloped part of campus, and the surrounding trees and scrub made it feel isolated and distant from the bustle of the dorms and classrooms. You could spend a long time there and enjoy no other company than the crickets and songbirds.
I bought an eight-pound maul with a yellow handle at the hardware store in town and took to splitting firewood. Most of the logs had been out in the sun long enough to be nice and dry, and many of them split up beautifully. Some of the eucalyptus had grown twisted and resisted my best attempts to cut it. Other pieces were rotting out from the inside, and would shatter into wormy dust at the first strike.
When something was making me tense, when the pressures of school were too much, or when the sunlight was just right, I would often go down to the wood pile and chop my way to peace. I was never even very good at it; I'm not very strong nor very well coordinated. But that didn't matter.
None of my friends really understood this. Some thought I was just plain nutty. Most found it entertainingly eccentric. Like that guy who wore a bathrobe all day long, I was that guy who split firewood.
Except for Jos. He knew why I liked chopping firewood. He understood it exactly.
We all have so many great memories of wacky misadventures and sparkling conversations with Jos. But what I miss right now is his insight. He understood other people. I always knew there was someone who understood whatever was in my head, and liked me for it. He made me like me for it too.
As an epilogue, I decided to leave my graduate program in physics in 1998. Jos's encouragement played a big role in the decision. As I'd hoped, I found a job here in California, and I moved to San Jose. He and I got together for various adventures, and with his help I began the long, slow process of making this place my new home. Of course it seems much more foreign to me now, just as the world seems so much larger and scarier than it did when my friend Jos was in it.
I miss the woodpile, and I miss Jos.
Chris McCamic: Jos and I lived together senior year. He was an essential collaborator in my senior project. Jos was an absolute national treasure, and it was good to be reminded of it with the kind of clarity that comes only when you're looking at a Jos hat or otherwise experiencing a record of the kind of absurdity only he could produce with such intensity and regularity.
Jos's contribution to my senior project was a really brilliant (despite his refusal to have his buttocks appear in the film) turn as a tyrannical professor, in truly inimitable Jos style. But my defining memory was of the first time I met him. The first time you met Jos was like the first time you encountered an exotic food from some remote part of the world, that you would have never in your wildest imaginings thought existed.
Jos was in Peder Thoreen's dorm room - full of musicians - instigating "one hour techno." I came in in the middle, so I have no idea how it started, only that it was clearly the sort of thing that only happened when Jos was around - this was obvious within seconds of meeting him. Apparently to put some acoustically inclined musicians' slurs against techno music to the test, Jos had incited the crowd to create a competent techno song in one hour. Which we proceeded to do. Everyone contributed somehow (with three minutes left and the band's name and song title just decided, I drew the album cover).
Then Jos took our fully produced tape, the single "Amherst," by "Flogged Over The Head With A Big Piece of Steel", down to the radio station and played it immediately while we blasted it out of our dorm room windows.
I am studying to be an elementary school teacher right now, and I am happy to see Jos in my third graders every time they pick up on a game I am trying to play with them, and play it in a way I wasn't expecting...
Dan Lavery: I lived just down the hall from Jos during our 2nd year at Pomona. I was also a sponsor at the time. He often invited me into his room to introduce me to the music of some new band he was interested in or just to talk about what he was up to or what was on his mind. I remember that like most people who knew Jos, I was always curious about what he was up to, it was always something interesting. And of course Jos was always interested in what other people were up to, he was a genuinely engaging person.
I remember talking with him about Pomona, he said that he felt he wasn't fully appreciating and taking advantage of the opportunity to be at Pomona at that time. I was surprised to hear that from someone so active and involved in campus life (at KSPC for example).
Jos engaged, charmed, and amused people. His enthusiasm and his lust for life were inspiring. His exuberance was contagious. He challenged and brought out the best in people. A little piece of Jos lives on in everyone who remembers him, and we are all the better for it.
Roy Speckhardt [TIA]: Jos changed the world for the better. During his brief time at The Interfaith Alliance (TIA) in Washington DC he constantly dared those around him to live life. He made people laugh, and challenged us to think. I remember numerous occasions/debates we had on issues from the "Flat Tax" to the possibility of true separation of church and state. I cherish these memories. I saw his great compassion for others every time he reached out to someone new, without fear, but with honest curiosity.
He made great friends of our office neighbors whom none of us had previously taken the time to speak with. Next door to our office were people in charge of Metro Bus advertisements. Jos referred to this (all female staff) as the Tall Lovely Ladies, and would greet them as such (to their delight) every day. Jos reminded us how rare tall women are and that it was absolutely necessary to show the proper appreciation. We ended-up getting a number of fine Metro-Bus-Station signs for decoration in our office, our homes, etc. in return for Jos's warm relations with them -- we who never took the time to talk to them before Jos's arrival.
He also befriended the owner of a sewing shop in Alexandria -- a source for Toessel inspiration.
Jos designed the She's Alive icon and told me about the origin of the words. It's a play off "he's alive" from Frankenstein. While one might suspect he was looking at it from a feminist perspective, I think he really took it from the 1985 movie "Weird Science." It's mentioned in the movie and in a radio edit of a theme song by Oingo Boingo that was once popular.
You might also wish to know that my wife Charlene is to have a baby late in April. If its a boy we'll be naming him Johannes after Jos. [She's named Johanna.]
Nancy Treser-Osgood: I recall eight years ago sitting in the lobby of the Claremont Inn (formerly Griswold's) and watching Jeremy enter the room. Most new students were tentative about approaching our Pomona College table, where my husband Peter Osgood (Associate Dean of Admission at Pomona at that time) and I (Associate Director of Alumni Relations at that time) sat welcoming incoming first year students. Jos just marched right up and pulled up a chair and started chatting. Peter, having an amazing memory, recalled Jos' essay, and commented on the originality and creativity that his writing demonstrated. Then Jos' mother entered the lobby and joined her son, and for about 15 minutes we chatted about life, Pomona College, and hopes and dreams for the future.
During my decade working here in Claremont I have met hundreds of students, but none have made the kind of first impression that Jos did. He was bright, articulate, energetic, charming, handsome, witty, charismatic...the list of adjectives could go on and on. I feel lucky to have been among the first to welcome him to Pomona College, and I harbor a deep sadness that we did not have the opportunity to spend more time together.
Helen Wang: I'm the mother of Jos's college friend, Natalie Dixon. I had a short encounter with Jos. He and Padgette were driving across America and stopped at my home. We went out to a Las Vegas restaurant "DIVE" shaped like a submarine with all the bells and whistles. Jos ordered some famous fries served in a huge cone with several dipping sauces. During this short encounter, I could tell Jos was an extraordinary young man. He was personable, polite and warm. We had a fun lunch. As short as our path crossed, it left a very lasting memory.
Anne-Marie Davidson: I was a classmate of Jos' at Pomona... a couple of years ahead of him. Somehow, when Jos died - and I still don't really know how this happened - no one called me to tell me. I wasn't a particularly close friend of his, but his freshman year we hung around a bit for much of his first semester. My senior year (his sophomore year), he was the general manager of the radio station, while I was the program director, so we worked together on a fair number of things. But he was so much better at it than I was! There's a reference to me on the page from Erica Tyron, about mis-pronouncing Jos' name as Joss. I was the one who told Jos he should go for being General Manager - there wasn't another good candidate, and I thought he did have the talent to do it. And I was right. Jos was way beyond his years - a freshman, taking over the station!
I have a picture from when we were taking senior pictures, Jos had wandered past, and it's sort of a "babe" shot, him with his arm around both me and Becca Shortle. I think that's my only picture of him.
What I remember - and I hope this will make you smile - is that I came to visit after I had graduated, in the spring of 1996. I ran into him on campus, and we walked a ways, and wound up sitting down in the grass somewhere. The only thing I remember of the conversation was that he said,
"When I got here, you told me Pomona had turned you into a conservative, and I thought, what a freak! But now I know exactly where you're coming from."It wasn't that either of us were really that conservative - but where you fall on the line between liberal and conservative depends on where the mid-point is, and at Pomona, we were definitely right of center. That he had remembered what I said - which I hadn't remembered, though I'm sure I said it - and took the time to comment on it to me - wow, that surprised me.
I just looked through a bit more of the site you constructed, and I can help you solve a bit of the puzzle on the "Dianovich?" page. We had talked about him changing his name, or at least he told me that he was doing it and why... and yes, the Dianovich was "son of Diane" and because of his mother - at that, he then had both of his parents and their heritage represented, and he had a name he liked. But he said he'd long been Jos anyway, so it made more sense. At least to him! :)
Reading Pomona College Today I found out he had died. It was a terrible blow to me. I never really got the chance to talk to others, or to share what we were thinking, or to see these stories. So I'm glad I found this site tonight, after all these years.
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