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  • Writer's picturePhil Jarvis

H B Gelatt Passes at 95

Updated: Jul 17, 2021

I first saw H B present his thoughts on positive uncertainty at career development conferences in the early 1980s. His whimsical smile, his friendly, easy-going style, and his love of using Charles Shulz's Peanuts characters to illustrate his thoughts on Positive Uncertainty charmed me as they did so many others. H B's certainty that we can be certain of nothing, not even what we see ("We see what we believe.") is wisdom that our increasingly polarized, dogmatized, and confrontational world needs more than ever.

H B was gracious enough to write Forewords for programs in The Real Game Series, which he loved.

Too often, we miss important opportunities to say something nice to people we care about. Fortunately, I wrote this to H B as he was contemplating his 95 birthday.

Hi, H B.

95 is one heck of a plateau! What an inspirational career in career development!

I have never missed reading your latest reflection on positive uncertainty. You have captured my imagination since I saw my first presentation by you with your supporting cast of Peanuts characters.

I have shared your insightful, yet utterly common-sense, irrefutable wisdom with so many people over the years, and I’m grateful you agreed to make presentations in Canada and the U.S. at my invitation! Your writings and your speaking have always been welcoming, fun, reassuring, hope-filled, and motivational. Just visualizing your friendly, humble, face brings a smile to mine.

Given the state of the world, it’s not possible to be certain about much other than the cycles of nature and income taxes. But the key is to step into an uncertain future with optimism, hope, and faith that the universe is beautiful, and unfolding as it should.

Your thinking has influenced everything I have accomplished, H B, as you’ll see in my latest paper. I see career development as lifelong learning, rather than point-in-time deciding. Preparing students for life, rather than exams, should be the raison d’être of public education and the responsibility of every educator. Periodic, brief encounters with counselors can’t possibly address students’ life-readiness learning needs. A re-imagined education system must have positive uncertainty as a founding tenet.

I was a kid when I was developing and promoting CHOICES and first crossed paths with you. Now I’m 75. I hope to have enough fire in my belly to still be writing at 95! I bow to you.

Please don’t stop writing H B. I need my regular ‘fixes’ from you. Very best wishes to you and Carol!


Soon afterward I got this from Carol Casey Gelatt, H B's love and constant companion for the last 40 years of his life.

I write this email with a heavy heart. On June 3, 2021, HB passed away from a heart attack, unexpectedly.

We were up early that day to head to Lake Tahoe for a week to celebrate with 95th birthday with our Colorado family. He was so excited! As he was dressing the heart attack hit. He hung in there for 10 hours before he quietly, and on his own terms, passed away, with me at his side as I have been for 40 years.

As we were getting ready for Tahoe, he finished three more blogs (of course!). I look forward to posting them on his behalf in the coming weeks. I love that HB just keeps on giving his talents and wisdom to all! ❤️

He so valued his long-time friendship with you, and especially enjoyed and was touched by your email exchanges a few months back. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the joy you brought to HB over the years and in, what turned out to be, his final months.

Please spread the word of HB’s passing to anyone you think might be interested.

With warm regards,



Carol Casey Gelatt

Executive Coach and Organizational


Office/Cell: 650.504.4506

Out of respect for a great man and a great life, I encourage you to peruse H B's Positive Uncertainty website with his monthly blog posts from June 2012 to June 2021, and to read his book Future Sense: See the Forest and the Trees. Published just weeks before his passing, Future Sense offers highlights of H B's illuminating and timely messages to the country and world he loved. His deep concern about what he perceives as a troubling triumph of dogma over healthy doubt in our time is apparent.

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