The gentleman from Ankara

The Tallahassee Democrat, for which I worked as a media observer under the International Center for Journalists in 2011, gave me an opportunity to meet with a very important person.

During one of the days when I was in the newspaper office, I got a phone call from someone who wanted to talk with me. The voice on the phone said: “Welcome to Tallahassee. I’m Stanley Marshall. If you’re all right, I want to meet with you today.”

News apparently had spread in Tallahassee. A Turkish journalist had came to this city, and Marshall excitedly informed the executive editor, Bob Gabordi, that he wanted to see this person.

The first thing I noticed upon meeting Marshall was that he was extremely polite. He picked me up at the newspaper in his own car and, speaking as if he were a nice gentleman from Ankara, said, “Welcome again. I was happy to hear that you’ve come here. I want to meet with you and tell about my old days.”

Stanley Marshall was a name that people in Turkey should have known well.

He put a great effort into the establishment of the Middle East Technical University (METU), which is one of the leading universities in Turkey, and he lived for a while in Ankara, which is the capital of Turkey.

With the fond remembrance of his days when he was in Turkey, Marshall, who was one of the key names in bringing METU in Turkey, wanted to show me some Southern hospitality along with a restaurant that served food similar to what we eat in Turkey. Because there was not any Turkish restaurant in Tallahassee, we went to a restaurant that served the foods of Lebanon and Greece, which have a similar delightful flavor.

Marshall, who asked me first about Ankara, clearly remembered the Ankara that he had visited decades earlier. He was telling me one-by-one about Kavaklidere, Cankaya and Kecioren — different areas of the of Ankara Province — and expressing that he greatly missed that sweet and changeable Ankara.

Marshall, who had continued to follow the developments in Turkey closely, told me about how he assessed the Channel Istanbul Project, the effects of Arab Spring on Turkey and the normalization process of Turkey with Armenia.

In spite of his advanced age, he had affected me considerably with his interest on Turkey. For example, Marshall, who was one of the most respected presidents of Florida State University, was wondering what the academic environment in Turkey was like. Particularly, he stated that the present situation of METU did him proud. Likewise, when I visited METU together with Gabordi a short time later, we talked about Marshall with the responsible people in that place.

Marshall, who was happy to hear that I was considering keeping on with my academic studies at Florida State University, had wanted me to come back to Tallahassee as soon as possible.

I was so sorry when I received the news from Gabordi — that nice gentleman of Ankara, Stanley Marshall, had passed away.

Ironically, I got the news of his death while I was planning to visit again in a short time. He was a real guy. On behalf of Turkey, I send Stanley Marshall’s family my condolences. May God rest his soul.

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