Prof. Samuel Otu Gyandoh


Mark K. Gyandoh

I always thought it funny that no matter how old I got or he got he was still my “Daddy.”  I tried calling him “Dad” sometimes but it never quite felt right.  Daddy always said we all must move on to make room for the next generation.  He was one who was never afraid of death but looked at it as a necessary part of life.

Since his passing, I’ve begun to think about his legacy.  We all talk about legacies but what does it actually mean? Is it material things you leave behind?  Words of wisdom? How people remember you?  To me, legacy is how you continue to live on even though you’re no longer physically here.  Your legacy lives on through your children or others whom you have impacted throughout your time on this planet.

I feel his legacy in me in many ways. 

My father always implored us to work hard and do our best.  I remember in 4th or 5th grade coming home with an “A” on a school paper and my father spotting all these mistakes.  I said “but I got an A.”  He said that wasn’t the point and it’s really about having the initiative to do things the right way even if others don’t see the flaws.  I try to teach my children the same thing about their work.

Education was really important to him.  I have never met anyone who loved to read as much as him.  One of his favorite shows was Booknotes on C-Span which he watched religiously every week.  Everyone who knows my Dad knows he loved to read.  On his birthdays or holidays I would always get him whatever book I was reading at the time.  It was a great connection between us.  My most prized possession now is a copy of his multi-volume book, “Sourcebook of the Constitutional Law of Ghana.”  This is especially meaningful because this was the last book he gave me. 

Though he valued intellectual pursuits, he also loved to travel and see new cultures.  He had such a magnetic personality that he made friends everywhere he went.  In Greece where he ran Temple Law’s summer program for several years he managed to become friends with so many people – both locals and expats – who were living there.  In Japan where he taught a Spring semester at Temple’s Tokyo campus he managed to become friends with so many Ghanaians.  I had no idea so many Ghanaians lived in Japan.  Yet my Daddy had the type of outgoing personality that drew so many to him in meaningful ways.  I know this first-hand because when I visited him in Japan his friend Kuni, whom he had befriended after randomly meeting him in a park, generously showed both of us around town like long lost relatives.  The same was true in Greece where his friends took us out to dinner as if we had known each other for years.  

From a young age he instilled in me that same love for travel and adventure.  Till this day I enjoy seeing new and exotic places and take every opportunity to make new friends and begin meaningful relationships.

My father was of course a constitutional law professor with a bookshelf full of constitutional law books or books about the founding of nations.  But at his core he was a loving father, grandfather, and great grandfather dedicated to taking care of his family.  Seventeen years ago I was hospitalized with diverticulitis.  I underwent surgery and spent ten days in the hospital recovering.  I always remember that he was sitting by my beside when I came out of surgery and he sat by my side daily until I went home.  Sometimes he would just sit there and read a book but it felt good to know he was always by my side.  I will always remember how deeply he cared for his family and taught me to do the same.

Four years ago my wife became ill after the birth of our second child.  She remarked about how meaningful and incredible it was that I cared for our two young children and worked full time, while visiting her every day.  The reason is that it is the type of person my Daddy was and the type of person he wanted me to be.

That’s the legacy my Daddy leaves behind.  Rest in peace Daddy.  I love you and will miss you.