English Department Remembers David Reyes

Teacher, Colleague, Friend

David Reyes taught a wide range of writing courses in the Cal State LA English Department and through the University Writing Center over a career that spanned twenty years. A graduate of Cal Poly Pomona with a BA in Philosophy and later a graduate of Cal State LA with an MA in English, David's favorite courses were ENGL 95 and ENGL 96, the two developmental writing courses. Students in these courses were often underprepared for college and struggling with their own doubts about their place in college. For these courses, David enjoyed picking books that he thought would resonate with his young readers but also challenge them as well. Several times, for example, he taught Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and remarked that students easily connected with the semi-autobiographical novel's fourteen year-old hero and his search for community, connections, and identity.


David Reyes meeting author Brando Skyhorse

David Reyes meeting Brando Skyhorse, author of The Madonnas of Echo Park

In an ENGL 96 course he was scheduled to teach this fall, he planned to use John Green's The Fault in Our Stars not merely because many of his recent high school graduates would have read it, but because he admired the book's honesty and willingness to grapple with deep and profound questions. Undoubtedly, David, as he did in all his classes, would have made "every effort to explain how a given text relates to the students' lives and how the issues raised are relevant and worth writing about."

These qualities he found in the books he asked his students to read were also his qualities: the search for community, connections and identity, the importance of honesty, a belief in living authentically, and a tough but compassionate willingness to grapple with deep and profound questions. He asked nothing more and nothing less of his students than that they consider these qualities as necessary to living a good life, a life of meaning and purpose, and he did nothing less than live those principles every day of his tragically short life, which came to an end September 29, 2014 when he unexpectedly passed away. He leaves behind a host of friends, colleagues, mentees, and admirers, some of whom share their sentiments below.

If you would like to add to this archive of reflections on Cal State LA's David Reyes, please contact Dr. Jim Garrett ([email protected]) of the English Department.


Brief Reflections (updated 11/5/2014)
I have been thinking over the past month or so just what I would say to you about David.  The same word keeps coming to mind: love. David and I shared an office . . . read more

Margaret Hart (10/8/2014)
It was a great privilege to have worked with David Reyes for so many years. I met David 21 years ago when we were both graduate students in a British literature course taught by Dr. Elaine Osio at Cal State LA. We were both Teaching Associates during our time as masters students, and he defended his thesis not long after I defended mine. For many years, our offices have been side by side in the English Department . . . read more

Ruben Quintero, Eulogy Delivered at David Reyes' funeral (10/7/2014)
In the Old Testament, in the Book of Job, Job has lost of all of his children and all of his livestock, his family and his wealth, all within a single day. In anguish, he tears his mantle and shaves his head and says: “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, / and naked shall I go back there. / The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; / blessed be the name of the LORD!” With such pious resignation as that of Job, we struggle to accept that the Lord has taken away David . . . read more