intervew with

John Tate

bei Jürgen Knees

A teacher in school that left a great impact on so many of us. 

John Tate is a memorable teacher to most of us, and he is fortunate to share his story with us.

BAHS: John, thank you for participating in this series of interviews. Would you tell us something about the Stations of Life:

JT: I am 74 years old. I was born in Quantico, Virginia … a Marine brat. Moving with my family I lived on Midway Island, Woodland, Vista, Escondido, San Bruno, and Fresno, California; Dublin, Ireland and then back to Escondido.

I attended quite a number of different schools and graduated from Escondido Union High School. I then attended Palomar Community College and then on to San Diego State College where I earned my BA degree. I then continued at California State University, San Diego where I got my Master’s degree (the school had changed its name twice and is now San Diego State University). I stayed there and got my California State Teaching Credential and got a job teaching at Potter Junior High School in Fallbrook, California and a job teaching at night at Palomar Community College. During a break at Potter, I talked to a substitute teacher who had taught overseas. That convinced me to apply with DODEA. I was accepted and my first posting was at Bonn American High School. Jeff Dye was my sponsor. 

BAHS: How many children do you have?

Our three children did all twelve years of school at Bonn and our daughter was in the last graduating class. I could not have wished for a better situation for my family.

BAHS: I don’t know anyone who has been in Bonn longer than you. What  did you do when the lights went out in Bonn?Upon the closure of Bonn, I was transferred to Baumholder High School where I finished out my career of teaching by instructing several computer classes. It was a fine school but wasn’t Bonn.

BAHS: What are you doing now?

My wife and I retired to Kuna, Idaho. We are enjoying life as an old retired couple.

interview with John

Teacher for Industrial Arts, Technology Education, Computer Science, Drafting/Design, and Television Production until the school closed in 1997.

BAHS: What is your best childhood memory? 
JT: Going with my family to a new station in Dublin, Ireland. My father took over as the Non Commissioned Officer in Charge of the Marine Detachment at the U.S. Embassy. I spent two and a half great years there attending Saint Andrew’s College. A wonderful experience it was.


BAHS: If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?
JT: I would be kinder to my younger brother and have closer ties with him now. Sadly that is lost.


BAHS: How did you meet your Wife? 
JT: We met in college.


BAHS: What do you feel most proud of?
JT: I enjoy the fact that I had, hopefully, an important impact on my students.


BAHS: What is your favorite music?
JT: I like all with the exception of rap and opera.


BAHS: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why? 
JT: I have been almost everywhere I would like to go with the exception of Greece and Turkey.


BAHS: If you could only keep five possessions, what would they be? 
JT: Rifles, pistols, tools, models, and photographs.


BAHS: What teachers in school made the most impact on you and why? 
JT: Mrs. Reeves in grade three and Mr. Tibbs in grade four, and Mr. Georges in high school English.


BAHS: What do you want your tombstone to say? 
JT: He did no great harm and had some successes.


BAHS: What was one of your most defining moments in life?
JT: Marrying my lovely wife, Kay.


BAHS: Why did you choose that profession?
JT: Honestly I sort of fell into it. Drifting through my education like a jelly fish at sea, I stumbled into an Industrial Arts major from a Political Science major. I am certainly delighted that is how it turned out.


BAHS: How do you spend your free time?
JT: In my machine shop or with my wife.


BAHS: If you won the lottery, what would you do?
JT: Not many different things than I do now. My children would all be able to retire early.


BAHS: Whom do you most admire in life?
JT: General David Shoup (Commandant of the Marine Corps).


BAHS: What are your top three favorite books and why?
JT: I cannot do just three so … When the Lion Feeds by Wilbur Smith. A great historical novel of South Africa. The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum. Good story with lots of turns. The whole Hornblower series by C,S. Forrester. About the British Navy in Napoleonic times. Trusty From the Toolroom by Nevill Schute. A simple story of duty and courage. Etched in Purple by Frank Irgang, my favorite college professor dealing with his experiences in WWII in Germany in Belgium, in and around the Bonn area, and in Berlin.


BAHS: What are you most afraid of?
JT: My wife when I am on her shit list.


BAHS: What feels like love to you?
JT: My wife and family.


BAHS: What is your strongest personal quality?
JT: Curiosity and tenacity.


BAHS: What was your most embarrassing moment?
JT: I am hard to embarrass and I do not remember anything worth sharing.


BAHS: If you were president, what is the first thing you would do?
JT: There is not any way I would be crazy enough to be president.


BAHS: What age do you feel right now and why?
JT: Mentally 27, physically 74. I enjoy doing the same things I did as a younger man but must be more careful doing them.


BAHS: If you could witness any event of the past, present, or future, what would it be?
JT: There are so many but I think I would choose to see The D-Day landings.


BAHS: What is a skill you’d like to learn and why?
JT: I am most heartily sorry that I never learned to play the guitar. I would love to play with the skill of Mark Knopfler just for my own entertainment.


BAHS: What does a perfect day look like to you?
JT: Sunny and somewhere in the seventies with some breeze.


BAHS: How would your friends describe you?
JT: Stubborn but fun loving

Tahnk You

John, thank you so much for taking the time for this intervew. It was a pleasure to learn more about you. I’m sure your story will inspire others and allow them the joy of dignified aging along with you. 

one last question

BAHS: What important message would you like to share with us?

JT: Set your goals carefully and forge ahead. Do not give up.