A tribute to Dr. Raphael Guillory

By Ben Blakney, Contributor

 

Over the 2020 winter break, EWU’s Dr. Raphael Guillory, friend and professor, lost his life. He was 49 years old.

Dr. Guillory was an adamant and passionate member of the EWU community. An alumni himself, Guillory was an Eagle football player and obtained his bachelor’s degree from EWU. He returned to Cheney after obtaining a master’s from WSU, to teach coursework in advanced psychology and counseling.

“We’d known each other since I was on the hiring committee,” said Nick Jackson, Ph.D, a colleague of Guillory’s in the psychology department and former chair. “Steve [Jordan, former EWU president] says, ‘Why don’t you have lunch with this guy and maybe see if he’s a good fit for the department, maybe we can have him start as a faculty member.’”

From there, Jackson and Guillory’s bond only grew.

Jackson said that Guillory was a person of strong authority in his classes, showing up to class with an attitude towards success, and he expected his students to do the same. 

“This is someone who’s really taking his job seriously and expects us to take our jobs seriously,” -Nick Jackson, Psychology Professor

“He had a presence in front of people … this is someone who’s really taking his job seriously and expects us to take our jobs seriously,” said Jackson.

But this seriousness was reserved for Guillory’s professor persona, to show students he meant business. Outside of class, Guillory valued his loved ones — family or otherwise —all equally.

“I wasn’t really close to his extended family, but I felt like many of us who weren’t part of his extended family felt like they were,” said Jackson. “His formal name is Raphael, but he would say, ‘Just call me Raph.’ By then, he’d welcomed you into his close circle.”

Jackson then said that during the funeral services, every member of Guillory’s family referred to him as Raph. 

Guillory was a determined and thorough man, eager to welcome the people he valued into his family, even if not by blood.

Within the department, Guillory was a positive catalyst for change. During 2016’s fervent controversy over the 49ers’ then quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem, Jackson said Guillory would not be attending any more department meetings until the department did something to take a stand on the issue. 

Eric Reid (left) and Colin Kaepernick (right) kneel before a game in 2016 | Photo courtesy of Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press

“He was symbolically taking a knee himself,” said Jackson. Through this protest, EWU’s psych department founded its own Diversity Committee, which Guillory led. 

“He was not afraid to take a stand, but he always did it respectfully,” said Jackson.

“Dr. Guillory was a devoted teacher whose strength showed through in every class session,” said Tara Phelan, an EWU student. “I had the honor of being his student this last quarter, in a class that was about the importance of human relationships.”

Phelan said she experienced moments in Guillory’s classes where students would share very personal, very intimate stories, where Guillory would praise the students for their courage and strength. 

“These comments always had more weight because we all got to see first hand how much strength he was exuding by showing up to class and putting his heart and soul into his teaching, even through the last few months of his life,” said Phelan.

“I am sad that I never got to experience Dr. Guillory[‘s teachings] in his healthy years, but I feel so honored to have been with him in his last quarter, to see his impact after his passing, and to experience what a kind, courageous, and caring man he was,” said Phelan in closing.