Charles Neumeier Remembered
By Kenneth H Barr, Stuyvesant High School Class of 1975
I transferred into Mr. Charles Neumeier's English class for a really great reason. I wanted to change my lunch period so I could eat with my girl friend. We broke up a few months later. The lessons Mr. Neumeier taught me have lasted a lifetime.
He was a quiet and very unassuming man at a school where credentials are trumpeted. You had to be very quiet in his class or else you couldn't hear his soft voice. He taught us Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Milton, Moliere, Melville, Hawthorne, Irving and so many others. I had to memorize the famous soliloquy of mark Antony from Julius Caesar, one of the greatest political speeches of all time. Most of all, he taught us how to appreciate the English language and the art of its use. The previous semester Stuyvesant's grammarian, Margaret Hegarty, taught us grammar, the owner's manual of English. Mr. Neumeier built on that by adding style and feeling. Both teachers gave us invaluable tools in a complementary rather than an adversarial manner. As a freelance writer, I will never forget how they made me the operator of English I have become.
I was in the Army when that most capricious of illnesses, AIDS, took him away from us. I am told he was one of the first teachers in the New York City Public School system to die from it. At that time, being a gay teacher here was not a very easy thing. Mr. Neumeier never showed us his struggles, only the ease, love and joy he had for our wonderful language. He is dearly missed by all he touched at The Stuyvesant High School in the City of New York.
[Information received from Kenneth H. Barr, Jackson Heights, NY, 12/7/2015]