Ye Olde History Snippets... Jose, a passionate astronomer and teacher, died Friday, Oct. 27, 2006 at age 62.
November 5, 2006 | Ocala Star-Banner (FL)
Author/Byline: KAMAU HOSTEN STAR-BANNER
OCALA - On many a chilly Wichita evening, Louise Olivarez would find her husband Jose - or Joe, as she called him - buttoned, wrapped and Velocroed up, braving the weather to gaze into the skies through his telescope. Sometimes he would call her out for a quick look. In more forgiving seasons, she made sure she had enough bug spray for the mosquitoes, so she could enjoy her husband's passion with him a little longer.
Jose, a passionate astronomer and teacher, died Friday, Oct. 27, at age 62.
A lover of books, Jose frequently visited the Friends of the Library Bookstore.
"I told them, 'I lost my best friend, but you all lost your best customer,' " said Louise, of her husband of 35 years.
The two met in a Sunday school class while Jose was planetarium director for the Central Florida Museum. On one of their first outings, he had her gaze through his telescope.
"I remember thinking, 'It looks like concrete,' " said Louise of what she saw.
They were married a year later.
Throughout their more than three decades of marriage, she accompanied him as his career moved the couple from Kansas to California, then back to her native Ocala for retirement.
While in California they indulged in a shared passion for opera.
"I learned to love that music," said Louise. The two frequented the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco.
Jose was, however, a much bigger fan of classical music than his wife. He especially appreciated the 19th century German composer Richard Wagner and English poet William Blake. So much in fact, that, according to Louise, he would buy multiple versions on CD of a particular opera after seeing it live.
The couple also took tours related to Jose's astronomy career. In 1999, they witnessed a total eclipse while visiting near Budapest, Hungary.
Although he followed the eclipses and Halley's Comet, in them he saw something deeper, an idea that was beyond science.
"There was almost a mystic side to him," said Rev. Ray Ruark, pastor emeritus of First Presbyterian Church in Ocala and a fellow instructor with Jose at Fort King Presbyterian Church.
"He had that ability to have a graceful relationship between science and spirituality," said Ruark.
According to Tom McNeil, a former university professor and also an instructor with Jose of adult classes at Fort King Presbyterian Church, Jose wanted a new, fresh thinking.
"He wanted a transformation of human society, from what we are to a more passionate life," said McNeil.
The two, along with Ruark, had a shared philosophy of life. They saw it as an entity that didn't end with death; that people are ultimately connected to each other.
Jose's philosophy mirrored one of his favorite lines from English poet William Blake's "Auguries Of Innocence": "Hold infinity in the palm of your hand."
Jose could even appreciate the beauty and symmetry in an orchid.
"He could see God in flowers," said Louise.
Just as he loved acquiring knowledge, Jose had a natural inclination to dispense it to others. He taught at the Senior Institute on the campus of Central Florida Community College as well as the Discovery Science and Outdoor Center.
"He was visual," said McNeil of Jose's teaching style. "He wanted people to participate."
Jose would often lecture for a while and then take questions.
"He wanted people to go beyond that," said McNeil, referring to Jose's lecture topics and theories.
Sometimes, though, members in his audience may not have grasped the depth of his ideas.
"We all tried to pretend we understood," Ruark said jokingly.
With his love of nature and and an awareness of the world around him, Jose yearned for more compassion and understanding between humans.
"If everyone thought the way he did, we wouldn't have wars," said Louise.
Caption: SPECIAL TO THE STAR-BANNERJose Olivarez, an avid astronomer, died at age 62.
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