"A GOOD, generous man and the best friend I've ever had." This is how a fellow Peace Corps volunteer describes Ivan Propst, 82, who passed away on Tuesday.
A retired educator, Jim Belyea has known Propst for 37 years. He said they just had a conversation last week about Micronesia back in the day.
Belyea said he and Propst would talk over the phone at least once or twice a week.
Belyea said Propst once told him, "I don't really have anyone to talk about what it was like in Micronesia back in the day" because many of their fellow Peace Corps volunteers have already passed away.
"I will miss him terribly,” Belyea said. “We've always been close. I don't think I've ever known anyone as long as I've known Ivan.”
Propst and Belyea started working at Northern Marianas College in the same year, 1986.
Belyea said he and Propst retired from NMC in the same year, 1997. They both taught English at the college. They also went to the same graduate study program at the University of Hawaii where they had the same instructors.
Belyea said he will never forget how Propst helped him adjust to a new life on Saipan.
Belyea arrived on island with his 11-year-old daughter. Propst took him and his daughter into the Propst family which made the transition to an island life a lot easier, Belyea said.
He said Propst was an eloquent speaker. "He was moving in his presentations. I think it was his gift. I will really miss that," Belyea said.
NMC President Dr. Galvin Deleon Guerrero posted on the NMC Facebook page: "Another Proa Icon joins his colleagues in heaven. Thank you, Ivan, for all that you did and all that you were for NMC."
He added, "Our College and our Commonwealth would not be what or where they are today without your indelible influence on higher education. You helped the NMC proa navigate through turbulent yet formative waters, and the wake you leave behind ripples across generations. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Propst family during this difficult time. Sail on, my friend."
Propst's son, Rep. Edwin Propst, posted on his Facebook page: "Our Papa Bear Ivan Propst is with God now. The Patriarch of the Propst clan has been called home. We thank the Lord for his nearly 83 years on earth. He was a giver, as generous and as genuine as they come. Thank you very much, Dad! We love you always!"
Representative Propst also thanked "all our dear family and friends for your love and prayers and kind messages."
"Dad was loved and his happiest moments were being surrounded with people,” he added. “Dad loved to tell stories but also was a great listener, sincerely attentive to others in their words and in their hearts. Dad was always so humble. I don't even know if he has a pair of shoes right now because he always wore zoris. Dad never sought fame, glory, or wealth. He wrote for others and would help tell their story. Now it is up to Dad's friends and family to share his stories, his great love for others, and how he always wanted people to be happy."