My son John Gunther Jr., a student at Deerfield Academy, Massachusetts, became ill of a brain tumor in the spring of 1946, when he was sixteen. He had to leave school of course, underwent a series of formidable operations, and for a year struggled with marvelous courage against the creeping, implacable ravages of an incurable disease. Death Be Not Proud describes in some detail the story of as gallant and spirited a fight for life and a whole mind as anybody ever made. Johnny, though frightfully ill, managed to keep up with his studies; he passed his examinations and in some fields went far beyond the normal curriculum for a boy of that age. All during the illness, as medical ordeal followed ordeal, his detachment, good humor, intense discriminating interest in everything about him, and above all his courage far beyond the line where any courage could be reasonably called for, made him a hero to his friends.
The passage that follows tells of his return to Deerfield for the ceremony of commencement. More than a year had passed since he had fallen out. "Frances" is of course Johnny's mother, and Mr. Boyden is the headmaster. The quip about Hartford has to do with a book I was working on at the time.
Johnny died on June 30, 1947, a month after the events described. His last words were to ask whether or not Harvard would let him in.
WE DROVE to Deerfield on May 27, and Johnny graduated on June 4, though he had not been to school for fourteen months. The days passed in a proud procession, and I think probably it was the happiest week of his life.
It seemed chilly when we started, and Johnny, as always extract
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Publication information: Book title: 105 Greatest Living Authors Present the World's Best Stories, Humor, Drama, Biography, History, Essays, Poetry. Contributors: Whit Burnett - Editor. Publisher: Dial Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1950. Page number: 221.
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