Anyone who knew Richard Nitsche knew that he had an incontestable love for learning.
Nitsche, who was 79 when he died on Jan. 25 at his home in Marina, made education a lifetime pursuit. He had taught at junior colleges, four-year colleges, middle schools and high schools, including most recently Carmel Middle School and Carmel High School. But to many students and faculty members, Richard Nitsche was more than just a teacher.
Nitsche was spending this school year as a substitute teacher at CMS, while also studying at Monterey Peninsula College.
Joyce Liu, a Chinese teacher at CMS and CHS, recounts the first time she met Nitsche while watching him teach at North Salinas High School.
“My impression was that Richard was a classical Chinese scholar, very knowledgeable yet so humble, very wise yet so gentle,” Liu says. “We became good friends.”
The Ohio native had been Liu’s substitute teacher for many years, filling in at both the middle and high school before he was selected as the AP Chinese instructor at CHS.
Chinese wasn’t the only language Mr. Nitsche was proficient in, however. The former MPC Chinese instructor had traveled and spent considerable time in Asia, Austria, France, Germany and the Slovak Republic, visiting relatives and studying a multitude of languages.
Indeed, Nitsche held a worldly perspective and loved to share his wisdom with any listener.
“As a teacher, his only goal was to broaden my knowledge of the world,” former AP Chinese student Michael Doyle says.
Senior Henry Kou holds a similar perspective towards Nitsche’s passionate style of teaching.
“I thought he was a true teacher, often going out of his way to make sure you understood something,” Kou explains. “He cared very much for his students and made it his job not only to teach us Chinese, but to make sure we were good people as well.”
Mr. Nitsche’s compassion towards others went beyond fulfilling his duties as a teacher. The language instructor would often work to make his classes even more interesting for his audience, whether by including Tai Chi lessons or bringing in foreign treats for his students to try.
“When it came to Chinese holidays, such as Mid-Autumn Festival, Chinese New Year, Richard always remembered to bring a box of mooncake and homemade dessert to Chinese classes,” Liu remembers. “To him, generosity and loving to help others were so natural, it was almost like his second nature.”
Doyle describes one of his favorite memories in the AP Chinese class as the time Mr. Nitsche brought in a photo album filled with memories of his childhood, family and life experiences: “I don’t think I had ever seen him happier than he was when the whole class loved every photo he showed us.”
Richard Nitsche’s passion and love for education was evident to all who knew him. In addition to having recently obtained a degree in computer science, he had been working towards certification in massage therapy. Nitsche was eager to learn all that he could about any subject, no matter how abstract.
“Everyone could agree that he was an inspiration to live a full life and keep in the habit of learning,” says Mykaela Bajari, a former AP Chinese student.
Richard Nitsche made a lasting impact on students, teachers and individuals at schools on the Monterey Peninsula and beyond. He will be remembered for his charismatic personality and wisdom.