New American Studies

Miriam Redleaf’s Letter Regarding Her Father, George Anastaplo

Miriam Redleaf

Andrew Majeske has offered me this opportunity for a brief statement about my father, George Anastaplo*:

He was the child of an arranged marriage, and his family was the only Greek family in his small town in southern Illinois. At that time immigration to the United States was a one-way trip, and the new society was different in almost every respect—isolating the older people, and giving bewildering roles to the children. My father's intelligence and energy were early recognized at school, and I imagine he took great comfort in this. I also imagine he particularly enjoyed high school whose principal, Mr. Fulkerson, served as a role model for life. Father enjoyed his time as a navigator in WWII, and college at the University of Chicago, and law school there. His dust-up with the Illinois Bar proved very satisfying to him—and he claimed for our mother too. And his role as an educator for intelligent adults gave him great pleasure his entire life.

As a first son in a Greek family, Father often did not understand all that Mother provided for him. He often respected her considerable talents and extreme intelligence during their 65 years of marriage. But it was not until her final years of incapacity that he said, “I never realized all your mother was doing for me.” In other ways too, Father could be very frustrating. Speaking for myself, I take great comfort that my parents tried to do the right thing; and that they did not do things of which I am ashamed. A few years ago, before they each got sick and died, I was with them, seated in their living room, and I told them, “You know, you were not very good parents. But you were good people.” And they both burst into smiles, very happy with the statement.

Miriam Redleaf (née Anastaplo)

March 12, 2022

*Editor’s Note: George Anastaplo (1925-2014) was married to Sara Anastaplo (née Prince) from 1949 until his death early in 2014. George and Sara (1926-2018) had four children, Helen Scharbach Newlin (born 1950), George Malcolm Davidson Anastaplo (born 1953), Miriam Irene Redleaf (born 1956), and Theodora McShan Anastaplo (born 1963).

About the Author

Miriam Redleaf (née Anastaplo) is the third of Sara Prince Anastaplo's and George Anastaplo's four children. A Professor of Otology/Neurotology (ear surgery), Professor Redleaf received a BA from St. John's College in Annapolis, MD, an MD from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and completed Otolaryngology residency and Otology/Neurotology fellowship at the University of Iowa. Since 1993, Professor Redleaf has maintained a full clinical, teaching, and research load at the Universities of Chicago and Illinois, and has published 96 peer reviewed articles. Professor Redleaf is known professionally for initiating ear surgery training in Ethiopia. In recent years, Professor Redleaf has also initiated grass roots otologic care to New Mexico, which is an underserved population, while attending the University of New Hampshire School of Law, and while organizing the monthly Prince-Anastaplo Seminars in Chicago. Finally, in honor of Professor Anastaplo, Professor Redleaf has applied for Greek citizenship.