How we remember Dr. Getatchew
Today is a sad day for all us all: it is a day we bid farewell to a devoted husband, a loving father and grandfather, a caring uncle, and a supportive friend, as well as an individual of remarkable intellect and exemplary character.
Blessed with a wife of vibrant spirit and pure heart, he was able to create a home of peace and love in which admirable children of talent and character were raised.
To all those who knew him, Dr. Getatchew is remembered as a source of unflinching support in times of need and council in times of distress. He cared for the downtrodden in society and was a voice to the oppressed. He was among the first to sound alarm when the great famine broke out in Ethiopia in 1983 and spoke on behalf of Ethiopian refugees dispersed all over the world since then. An ordinary mortal would have been vanquished from the wound inflicted on him by the bullet fired by a soldier of the fascist regime that took power in 1974. By sheer power of the spirit, Dr. Getatchew was able to endure unrelenting physical pain and mental anguish and continue his life of service to others marked by outstanding achievements.
As a member of staff in the faculty of art of Haile Selassie University, he trained many young Ethiopians among whom many have become distinguished teachers in schools and colleges both at home and abroad. Despite great obstacles, Dr. Getatchew was able to found a quarterly journal – the Ethiopian Register – through which he was able a to speak truth to power and expose human rights abuses in Ethiopia during the communist era and the regime that followed.
His contributions, including his remarkable work at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library of St. John’s University will be remembered as monumental achievements that will serve generations of scholars in Ethiopian studies.
Though it is a very sad day today for all of us it is also a day we celebrate a life well lived by a remarkable Ethiopian who was endowed with powerful intellect, an astute moral character, as well as a strong physical constitution which combined enabled him to live a memorably and productive life. The many books and articles has published provide a glimpse of what a remarkably great individual Dr. Getatchew has been. Over and above being an accomplished scholar, Dr. Getatchew was a good human being, morally upright, imbued with a noble heart and a compassionate spirt with an outgoing urge to help others. He was among the few to realize that we are all fellow travelers during this brief time on earth and that a life worth living is one devoted to help others find moments of happiness in their lives.
Dr. Getatchew was a truly liberated man, free from hate and resentment, even towards those who did harm to him. For all these reasons, we would like to tell Dr. Getatchew today: though your departure will create a huge void in our lives, we remain comforted by the treasures you have left for us, the exemplary life you led, your devotion to family, and your loyalty to friends. Though you may not be with us physically, your spirit will live in us forever. Yours was a life meaningfully lived for us to emulate.
We sincerely wish you eternal rest in the loving embrace of the Almighty.