Retro Appreciation for a Tres Bon RFH French Teacher

Joseph Guillory circa 1970s
Joseph Guillory circa 1970s

C’est toute bien.

It’s all good. That’s how things were in Monsieur Guillory’s class at RFH back in the 1970s.

The patient, kind and slightly goofy guy who taught the honors French class for many years is gone. But, no, his students and former colleagues have not forgotten him.

So, as part of Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect’s Teacher Appreciation Week ode to now deceased colorful teachers who made a vivid impression at RFH, we honor today Joseph Guillory in our Retro Pic of the Day.

You didn’t have to have him for French to get the picture that Monsieur Guillory was a kind, even-tempered man always sporting a smile and teaching well — even when he knew that the miscreant honor students in his class were constantly goofing on him.

Evil little pranksters. And, yes, this editor was one of them.

The giant aviator glasses, thick mustache, pastel-leiusure suit sporting guy didn’t deserve the, albeit sort of good natured, fun we poked at him.

Anyone who knew Monsieur Guillory probably has the same vision of him ingrained somewhere in the recesses of their memory. It was hard to miss him — tall and thin with those pastels and always toting a briefcase.

He was dear friends with Winifred Steele, also a wonderful French teacher (who is still alive).

In fact, I chatted with Madame Steele at former RFH English teacher Mimi Hughes’ funeral. And an enlightening chat it was.

I apologized or our behavior toward Monsieur Guillory. She laughed and said he probably loved it and had quite the sense of humor himself. She also told me that in addition to being a very effective French teacher, he was a very talented artist. (Yes, that story will come!)

It’s so funny how thwarted a teen’s perceptions can be. I told her about the time, for instance, that the entire class emptied, sneaking through the divider into an empty classroom, while Monsieur Guillory was writing on the chalk board.

Poor guy. Giggling, mouths covered and scrunched together in the other classroom, we waited for his reaction as he turned around to find no one left in the class.

“Mon dieux!” we heard. Then he continued, all in French, of course, and never shouting or chastising, but rather staying in teacher character, “Allo? Questque c’est? Ou est Elene? Ou est Robert? Davide?”

Not a “merde” out of his mouth. RIP, Monsieur Guillory, vous est toute bien.

Remember Monsieur Guillory? Share your memories with us.

— Elaine Van Develde

This ode to Mr. Guillory was originally posted in 2015 during Teacher Appreciation Week. People have been asking about Mr. Guillory lately, so we have re-run this piece. RIP, Monsieur Guillory. You are remembered.

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