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A Friend Remembered: Lambros Comitas and Others Recall George Bond


George Bond

George Bond

Lambros Comitas

Lambros Comitas

Lambros Comitas,  TC’s Gardner Cowles Professor of Anthropology and Education, recalls George Bond, his colleague and friend of 40 years.   

Click here to read others’ comments about George Bond.

George was my friend, my very dear friend, for well over 40 years.  My friend was a remarkable person, entirely committed to his family and discipline, utterly honest and extraordinarily principled.  He was unique.

He was an anthropologist trained at the London School of Economics, an anthropologist who carried the brand of a British trained academician with pride and dignity, a brand that I consider exemplary.  George was an Africanist, a term used when anthropologists were labeled by the world regions that they studied – these days we describe them by the topics that they work on.  George, my friend, my guy, was a true-blue dirt anthropologist who grew up in the discipline when it flourished, and he represented that field of study with panache. His work on the Yombe of Zambia, for example, with whom he spent nearly three years, steadily stands the test of time.  His meticulous description of the history of the Yombe is now the official account of the tribe.  Of that, George was really proud.

He knew, kept close ties with and was admired by an enormous number of anthropologists, black and white alike.  Black students as well as many others who went through Columbia and TC with any interest in anthropology, Africa and education almost always went through Bond and prospered intellectually from those encounters. More than that, and certainly with black colleagues and students, he was a key figure to a network that led to research projects and jobs. 

And then there was George at TC; he knew everyone there and apparently was loved by all of them.  But sometimes that was a little disturbing, at least to me.  I remember walking through the halls with him, coffee cups in hand, as he greeted almost any faculty member, any recognizable student and staff that passed by and then engaging them in a spirited conversation that almost wound up by Bond suggesting that “we should have a real meeting or a conference very soon about what we were talking about, it’s really interesting.”  Every time he reached that point, I’d have drifted off, admiringly, with my very cold cup of coffee.  Students as well as many faculty colleagues inevitably addressed George as ‘Professor Bond’ in the true British academic fashion that he admired.  That sometimes confused the new students: once for example, a first-year novice whom I scarcely knew, came running into my office, obviously impressed with his errand, shouting, “Lambros, Lambros, Professor Bond needs to talk to you!”

Then there was our relationship. Once in a while we debated the nuances of status and class and who, George or Lambros, was more or less lower class.  George would argue, “Of course, I’m lower class, I’m from Appal-ah-chia,” with that very distinctive accent of his, and I’d say, ‘you’re wrong, not only do you pronounce terribly but you’re the scion of those most distinguished lines of Bonds and Clements, those academic and clerical aristocrats that clearly trump my very dim relationship to Odysseus, King of Ithaca.”  Those debates, like many others, had no winner. But much more to the point, George and I truly helped each other. We complained about everything for an hour each workday for 40 years, a magnificent gift of mutual therapy that sustained us during our trip through Teachers College history.  

There is one last thing that I have to say.  What George Bond was able to carry out this past academic year despite terrible pain and agonizing torment was truly remarkable. He never uttered a word to his students and colleagues about his illness, and only under the worst circumstances during the last few days did he ever ask anyone to do something that he absolutely could not do for himself.  A brave man, a good man, he will not be forgotten.

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