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Neihardt arrived in Columbia in 1948 (at age 67, taught an additional 20 years at the University) to teach Epic American English and to serve as the poet-in-residence at the University of Missouri. Though I couldn't find an official reference to it, I've heard that when he walked in the classroom, with his thick white hair standing on end, he would boldly announce each day that today is the best day yet.
He's right, you know.
Easter, by John G. Neihardt (1903)
When trying to find reference to Neihardt in the classroom at University of Missouri, I ran across a quote by veteran political journalist Jack Germond: "I met a wonderful old man, an epic poet named John G. Neihardt, who taught a course in writing the critical essay and, more to the point, taught all his students what it was for a man to grow old totally comfortable with himself and what he had done with his life."
Here's film footage of John G. Neihardt discussing and then reciting the Easter poem.