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Celebrating the Life of Professor Wade Lancaster

In one of the most moving and emotional evenings of the voyage thus far, we came together as a shipboard community last week to celebrate the life of Professor Wade Lancaster who suffered a fatal heart attack while traveling in Shanghai.  Following a touching prayer service led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, we processed to the back of the ship to participate in a special ceremony at sea. With the sun setting over the Bay of Bengal, each of us threw a rose into the ocean in honor of Professor Lancaster, while Captain Jeremy Kingston sailed the ship in a figure eight motion as a symbol of eternity.

The evening was not only a chance to honor the passing of Professor Lancaster, but also to celebrate the return of his wife, Jeannette, who has decided to rejoin the voyage and continue teaching.  Receiving hundreds of hugs and condolences as she stood on the back deck, we could see Jeannette’s courageous smile broaden as the overwhelming and heartfelt support of our Semester at Sea family embraced her.

It became clear to us during the course of the ceremony that it's in moments like these when the beauty of what it means to be part of the Semester at Sea community can be felt most acutely. Anyone who has sailed before knows that there's an undeniable sense of family and togetherness that develops on board, and all of us here felt that bond last week as we came together to support each other and to honor the loss of one of our own. Professor Lancaster was a much loved member of the community who enjoyed every aspect of the Semester at Sea experience, who shared his deep knowledge of business and marketing with his students, and who will be remembered for all the wisdom and inspiration he brought to our voyage.

Below is a tribute to both Jeannette and Wade written by friend and colleague, Professor John Miller, which he read out loud during Saturday evening’s memorial service.

Jeannette, my brief remarks are meant specifically for you. And also for all of us here who knew Wade and loved him, and who must now continue our pilgrimages without him.

Wade died in Shanghai. He was on his way home. And where was his home? His home was on a ship docked at a pier in Shanghai. His home was this small vessel, the MV Explorer, a small ship, a ship in the midst of the sea. He called this ship home. But what makes a home? Family makes a house a home, a ship a home. We aboard the MV Explorer were Wade’s family. We are your family, Jeannette.

Thank you for having the courage to come back home, to finish the journey with your family. We need your courage to help us complete this voyage, and to teach us how to continue our separate journeys when this voyage ends. Thank you for returning, Jeannette. Now we have a full ship’s company.

Teach us to live in the journey, not for the destination.
Teach us to learn from disappointments.
Teach us to revel in the joy of life given to us, in this “brave new world” which forever unfolds before us and that has such goodly people in it.
Teach us “that man is not made for defeat,” that “a man can be destroyed but not defeated.”
Teach us to see into “the wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glide to and fro.”
Teach us to see “the multitudinous, God-omnipresent, coral insects, that out of the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs.”
Teach us to see “God’s foot upon the treadle of the loom.”
Teach us to live deeply in the layers, to sound the depths,
Teach us to change and never to be done with our changes.

Photos by Danny Askew, Unreasonable Media

  • Life at Sea

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