I met Amy when she came to UNC Charlotte to interview for the position of Dean of the J. Murray Atkins Library. Within a few minutes of talking with her, I could tell that she cared deeply about the humanities. During her years as the Dean of our library, she cultivated a special relationship with the English Department. She promoted the development of the library’s holdings in literature and other areas related to the mission of the English Department. As the Dean of the library, she presided over the acquisition of the library’s one millionth volume–a rare first edition of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Amy helped arrange for Julian and Elsie Mason to donate this volume to the library. Because Julian taught in our department for many years and served as Chair during the late 1970s and early ’80s, the acquisition of this volume underscored for me Amy’s standing as a friend of our department. Even after Amy stepped down as Dean because of her illness, I often saw her and Alan at Visarts, a video rental business then located near Amy and Alan’s home. Amy loved films.
The last time I talked with Amy was at Visarts. I was there with our son, Gavin. She chatted with us and recommended a British comedy that she thought Gavin would enjoy watching. I don’t remember the title of the film, but I remember renting it on her recommendation. Amy was right. Gavin enjoyed the film. This memory sticks with me, for it captures Amy’s love of culture and her impulse to share her knowledge. I think that Amy was born to be a librarian, and we were fortunate that she played such an important role in leading our library.
I first got to know Richard, who was generally known as Dick, at a gathering at Boyd and Dick’s home. The gathering was tied to the hiring of Blair Rudes, a linguist who taught in our department for a number of years. At one point during this event, the conversation turned to linguistics, and I had only a vague idea what everybody else was talking about. Fortunately, Dick came to my rescue. We ended up talking at length, during which I found out that he had taught American history at Queens College for many years before pursuing a career with the MecklenburgCounty government. Dick and I discovered that we shared a concern about censorship, and we talked about this topic while everybody else was talking about linguistics.
The last time I talked with Dick was at one of the department parties that my wife and I host twice a year. Dick was already in declining health, but he came to the party anyway. He took up station on our back patio and watched the children play on the slide that is still located in our backyard. At the time, we had an old golden retriever named Maggie. Maggie found a friend in Dick, and she sat down next to him. I remember seeing him pat Maggie as they both kept an eye on the children swooping down the slide. They both seemed content in a quiet way. From what Boyd tells me, Dick always cared about children and enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren. Two of his grandchildren read their new books to him on the day that he died. As I see it, this is a fitting conclusion to a story about a man who cared deeply about the members of the younger generation and their future.
I know that I speak for everyone in our departmental family in expressing our condolences to Alan and Boyd over the loss of their loved ones.
Kudos — As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of the English Department. Here is the latest news:
Sarah Minslow published a chapter titled “Developing Morality by Exploring Social Justice in the Works of Walter Dean Myers” in Critical Insights: Social Justice and American Literature edited by Jeff Birkenstein and Robert C. Hauhart.
Upcoming Events and Deadlines — Here is information about upcoming events and deadlines:
January 8 — The first day of classes for the Spring 2018 semester is January 8.
January 12 — The English Department meeting will take place on January 12 from 11:00 to 12:15 in the English Department Conference Room.
Quirky Quiz Question — The university libraries figured prominently in the relationship between Amy Dykeman and Alan Rauch, but a library also played a key role in the relationship between Dick Davis and Boyd Davis. Dick and Boyd first met in the library at the university where they both earned their doctoral degrees. Can you name this university?