In Memoriam: Charles J. Fuqua

(Written by Meredith Hoppin, Department of Classics, Williams College)

Charles John Fuqua, Garfield Professor of Ancient Languages Emeritus at Williams College, died peacefully at his home in Williamstown, Massachusetts on 19 January 2019, his wife, three children, and grandchild at his side. He was 83 years old.

Charlie was born on 5 October 1935 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France and grew up in Arlington, Virginia. He attended Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. and graduated from Princeton University in 1957. Charlie served in the U. S. Navy for three years and in the Naval Reserves for eight more, retiring as a Lieutenant Commander. While a graduate student at Cornell, where he studied with Gordon Kirkwood, Charlie met and married a fellow graduate student in Classics, Mary Louis Morse of Vermont. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1964 and teaching at Dartmouth for two years, in 1966 Charlie came to Williams to chair the Classics Department, which he did for the next twenty years. Charlie arrived at the college when it was just embarking on momentous changes, including expanding the size of the student body, admitting women, and recruiting a substantially more diverse set of faculty, staff, and students. Charlie participated actively in ensuring the success of these changes, within the department and throughout the college.

In the 1980's, on his own initiative and not speaking on behalf of a committee or any gathering storm among the faculty, Charlie proposed that department chairs share with assistant professors the annual report submitted to the powers that be about their performance. His proposal became college policy, and each assistant professor since then has received annually what is called, officially and popularly, "the Fuqua letter."    

In a department of three faculty, Charlie worked closely with his friend and tenured colleague, John Stambaugh, to devise an efficient Classics curriculum that served not only our language students and majors but a wide range of other students as well. A teacher devoted to each of his students, Charlie also understood the larger curriculum's role in every student's educational experience, and he was an early proponent of interdisciplinary cooperation and coordination. Like John, Charlie was a strong advocate of study abroad and of international research; he served on the Advisory Council of the American Academy at Rome and, in 1974, was its chair. 

Charlie was always actively engaged in scholarly projects, and his publications reflect the breadth of his interests, from the ostracism of Hyperbolus (1965) to the poetry of Posidippus (2007, 2008). Charlie also published articles on Homer, Horace, Vergil, and, especially a set of major studies on myth and heroism in Greek tragedy (1976, 1978, 1980).

Charlie was burdened with serious health problems for many years even before he retired in 2003, but his most distinctive characteristics remained intact, including his kindly eccentricities, offbeat humor, boundless curiosity, and never-failing sense of wonder. Charlie was an avid gardener and an excellent photographer. His favorite pastimes, though, were listening to music and reading. In his last months, Charlie devoted most of his energy for reading to Vergil's Aeneid.

Charlie will be remembered in the Williamstown area for his volunteer work at HospiceCare in the Berkshires and at the Kurn Hattin Homes for Children in Vermont. Williams has honored him with the Fuqua Tutorial. By those of us who knew him well, he will, simply, be missed.           

---

(Photo: "Candle" by Shawn Carpenter, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

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