Weber Studies' Dr. Neila C. Seshachari Annual Fiction Award
Fall has passed to winter, and spring has brought Weber Studies another great measure of loss. Neila Seshachari, our renowned former editor, passed away unexpectedly, sudden but in the peace and careful presence of her beloved husband, Candadai Seshachari. It is difficult to imagine a greater or a more shocking loss to our community—a loss that will be felt here for a very, very long time.
Dr. Neila Seshachari was a much respected and valued member of her community. Neila served for many years on the Utah Arts Council and the Utah Humanities Council. She was the state president of the American Association of University Women. She was the first woman president in the 108-year history of Utah Academy of Arts and Sciences, and she was the first non-Mormon woman elected president of the Association for Mormon Letters. Neila was named a National Danforth Fellow for teaching excellence and received a host of other national and state awards. Her contributions to Weber State University and the northern Utah community are beyond measure.
As a writer, Neila published short stories and critical essays. As an editor, she won critical acclaim for her book on conversations with William Kennedy, and she was a nationally reputed F. Scott Fitzgerald Scholar.
Neila was an inspiring, independent spirit and a true Renaissance women…. She was a proud and devoted wife, mother, and grandmother, as well as a dedicated and much loved professor to three decades of Weber State University students.
—Charles F. Trentelman, journalist and friend
Standard Examiner, March 12, 2002
Grace is a characteristic or quality pleasing for its charm, refinement, or beauty. The idea of grace embodies a sense of fitness or propriety—of moral excellence. There are few people in the world who truly bring the word "grace" to mind. When Dr. Neila Seshachari was suddenly removed from our presence, I was brought to the word again.
—Maury Grimm, Publisher/Editor and friend
Junction Magazine, March 2002
Neila was in possession of a life so full and vibrant and complex that it became, itself, a long and waving texture, a braided train of service and scholarship, art and spirituality and friendship, as long and beautiful and unusual as that quintessential hair of hers—it nearly touched the earth. Neila has left us better able to imagine, more capable of inclusion, less certain of our rigid and too often invalid definitions of ourselves and others—Neila was royalty among us, a champion for the arts, an ambassador of the best and most hopeful ideas….
—Robert VanWagoner, writer and friend
Utah Governor's Awards in the Arts, April 26, 2002
For me, the quality that most set Neila apart was this: She was a rare blend of the traditional and the modern, the old and the new. On the one hand, she exemplified a civility, a rootedness, and a reverence for culture…. At the same time she had her finger firmly on the pulse of the contemporary world. She met life as a human being ought to—with a spirit of astonishment and wonder.
—Professor John Schwiebert, colleague and friend
University Tribute Address, March 20, 2002
If not its birth parent, Neila was certainly Weber Studies' most attentive and loving mother—and she had plans for her child. Under Neila's 11 years of careful nurturing, guidance, and vision, Weber Studies grew from infancy to maturity—from a small local journal published once each year to a tri-quarterly journal of national reputation.
Here at Weber Studies, we remember Neila as our most energetic, dedicated, and passionate editor. We are surrounded by the tangible evidence of her wisdom, her grace, and her exceedingly intense energy—the journal itself. Here, we will always want more of her. We will, of course, miss what can never be replaced—her smile.
We share our loss with Neila's family of whom she was so proud—particularly Candadai (Sesh) who will miss her more than we can imagine.
—Brad L. Roghaar, editor weber studies
Michael Wutz, associate editor
Kathryn MacKay, associate editor
Kay Anderson, editorial assistant
I relax on the leaf-laden lawn
to drink the warmth
of the northbound sun and pulsate
with the breath of this
bounteous autumn day.
Golden brown leaves rustle
and crackle about me as
a tender breeze caresses
the half-bare limbs of oakbrush
and apricot. A late bee
langorously kisses the cascading
alyssum. Wild shrieks
of children's laughter intercept
the drone of a distant
jet vanishing beyond
the immutable mountain.
I am in a trance.
Great Mother, enfold me
in your crucible
of growth and sublimation.
When my time comes, let me
waft down gently as a falling leaf
to nurture the new growing grass blade
—Neila C. Seshachari