In Memoriam: Lucy Turnbull

(From the University of Mississippi's website)

Former University of Mississippi professor Lucy Turnbull will always be remembered as a beloved educator who could make her curriculum both easy to understand and infinitely interesting to her students, a mentor and a champion of civil rights at Ole Miss.

Her enthusiasm for the classics was contagious, which propelled her students to success in her art history, archaeology, mythology and classical civilization courses. Turnbull, 87, of Oxford, joined the university faculty in 1961 and taught until 1990. She died Sunday (April 21).

Dewey Knight, recently retired UM associate director of the Center for Student Success and First-Year Experience, was one of Turnbull’s friends. He entered the university as a freshman in 1966 and found himself in one of her classes that year.

“She walked into the classroom that first day,” Knight said. “There were about 25 of us, and we were immediately very afraid of Professor Turnbull. She was incredibly intelligent. She could read Greek like we read English.

“We all were in fear of her, but we had the ultimate respect for her, because it was very obvious she was brilliant.”

Services for Turnbull are set for 11 a.m. Friday (April 26) at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oxford. A visitation will precede the service starting at 9 a.m. in the church’s Parish Hall.

Knight calls his former professor “one of the most important change agents” in the university’s history. Her biographical bullet points support that claim.

Born in Lancaster, Ohio, Turnbull earned a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College and her master’s and doctoral degrees from Radcliffe. She was a John Williams White Fellow and Charles Eliot Norton Fellow at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. She was the author of many scholarly articles and contributed to books, mainly in the areas of Greek vase painting, mythology and poetry.

After holding positions as a museum assistant at Wellesley College and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, she joined the UM classics faculty in 1961, as a classical archaeologist.

“Teaching is very energizing, but I didn’t really understand that at the time,” she later recalled. “When you’re teaching, you’re giving something to the students, but they’re also giving back to you. I enjoyed it very much.”

Turnbull was active in the integration of Ole Miss in 1962, when James Meredith became the first black student to enroll at the university. She, as a relatively new faculty member, was among the professors who vocally supported Meredith pursuing his education at the university.

Provost Emeritus Gerald Walton, who joined the UM faculty in 1962, later recalled that the professors who supported integration as part of the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors held formal meetings. Turnbull was elected the group’s secretary.

“Those of us who supported integration became a kind of fraternal group and talked among ourselves a good deal,” Walton said in 2012. “It was good to learn that Lucy was one who did not mind speaking her mind even though we weren’t sure in those days how such people as board of trustees members or legislators – or members of the Ole Miss administration, for that matter – might act. Lucy was a brave woman.”

Meredith often found himself alone on campus. Knight remembers seeing a photo of his friend Turnbull having lunch in Johnson Commons with Meredith and UM professor James Silver, author of “Mississippi: The Closed Society,” surrounded by a sea of empty tables.

She also was an active member of the American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause, Mississippi Council on Human Relations, National Geographic Society, Smithsonian Associates and the National Organization of Women, among other groups.

Turnbull helped establish the University Museum and served as its director toward the end of her career, from 1983 to 1990. Its opening was one of her favorite memories, as the Department of Classics‘ large collection of Greek and Roman antiquities was moved from Bondurant Hall to the museum, where they remain.

Turnbull’s classroom presence had a lasting effect on Knight, he said. The two became friends, and for 20 years, beginning in 1996, they jointly taught a Sunday school class at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, where Turnbull was a devoted member who will be memorialized there Friday.

Knight and his wife, Theresa, also were among those invited to “The Christmas Party” at Turnbull’s house each year, where she lived alone, having never married.

The parties, which Knight said she hosted for nearly 50 years, included a who’s who of the university’s liberal arts community and ornaments that Turnbull made by hand.

“The first time we got the invitation, it just said ‘The Christmas Party,’” Knight said. “We didn’t know what was happening. We finally ultimately realized it was a big event, and if you were invited to her house, you felt special.”

He will always remember Turnbull as one of the most important figures in the university’s history and a fierce advocate for the liberal arts education.

“I never met anybody who didn’t like Lucy,” Knight said. “She was just a really special person who was very opinionated and very principled. Even if you didn’t agree with her, you liked her.

“She was an unwavering force. She was a scholar, but she was also a quality person. She made the university better by being a part of it.”

---

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

Categories

Follow SCS News for information about the SCS and all things classical.

Use this field to search SCS News
Select a category from this list to limit the content on this page.

"Jacques A. Bailly, an associate professor of classics at the University of Vermont, is the department's director of graduate studies. He has also been the official pronouncer of words at the Scripps National Spelling Bee since 2003. He won the annual bee as an eighth grader in 1980." Read the interview with Prof. Bailly at The Chronicle of Higher Education's web site.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 06/16/2011 - 3:37pm by Information Architect.

"NATO refused to say Tuesday whether or not it would bomb ancient Roman ruins in Libya if it knew Moammar Gadhafi was hiding military equipment there. 'We will strike military vehicles, military forces, military equipment or military infrastructure that threaten Libyan civilians as necessary,' a NATO official in Naples told CNN, declining to give his name in discussing internal NATO deliberations." Read more at CNN World online.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Tue, 06/14/2011 - 2:30pm by Information Architect.

The American Philological Association is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Ellen Bauerle of the University of Michigan Press as Editor, and Dr. Wells Hansen of Milton Academy as Assistant Editor, of Amphora, its Outreach publication, effective January 2012.

Ellen has for several years worked as the editor for classics and archaeology at the University of Michigan Press. She also oversees book production for the not-for-profit Michigan Classical Press, and in the past has created and sold ebooks on the web.  Recipient of a BA in Greek and English from Oberlin College, and an MA and PhD in Classics from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, she has been an Eric P. Newman Fellow at the American Numismatic Society and Seymour Fellow at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.  Ellen is delighted that Amphora is evolving to include the latest technologies, as additional ways of reaching its key constituencies among interested nonspecialists, scholars, teachers and students at the secondary level, and administrators.  

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 06/13/2011 - 6:27pm by .

Read Michael Collier's poem "Laelaps" and a critical essay about it by Lisa Russ Sparr at The Chronicle of Higher Education's web site.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Mon, 06/13/2011 - 2:29pm by Information Architect.

Got Latin? Got Greek?

View full article. | Posted in Degree and Certificate Programs on Fri, 06/10/2011 - 2:42pm by .

Delivered by Charlie Bridge (Class of 2011), a Classics Concentrator, at Harvard Commencement on May 27:

Rota Fortunae

Praeses Faust; Decani Professoresque sapientissimi; familiae, amici, et hospites honoratissimi; et tandem condiscipuli carissimi…salvete omnes!  Mihi voluptas magna atque honor altus est huius ceremoniae incipiendae in hoc theatro augusto Trecentensimo.  Nec solum conventum ultimum classis nostrae, anni duomillensimi et undecimi, sed etiam conventum trecentensimum et sexagensimum huius universitatis hodie celebramus. 

Hoc cum animadvertissem gaudebam, propter sensum singularem numeri trecenti et sexaginta.  Ne mihi quidem, litterarum antiquarum discipulo, latere potest orbem omnem in partes trecentas et sexaginta esse divisum.  Venit etiam in mentem orbis quidam praecipuus, qui vitas nostras hos quattuor annos rexit: Rota scilicet Fortunae Harvardiana.  Temporibus antiquis, rota signum erat levis mobilisque naturae fatorum – circuitus vel unus cladem felicissimis afferre atque miseros extollere potest.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Tue, 06/07/2011 - 7:05pm by Information Architect.

"One of the best preserved sculptures from Roman antiquity is about to make its Washington, D.C., debut. Host Scott Simon reports the Capitoline Venus will go on display next Wednesday at the National Gallery of Art." Read or listen to the story at NPR.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Sun, 06/05/2011 - 12:27pm by Information Architect.

"Listening to Cynthia Shelmerdine describe the writing on a Greek tablet from more than 3,000 years ago, it’s like she was looking over the scribe’s shoulder as he worked. She points out details and nuance of technique, the condition of the tablet and what it means, literally, and for the world of Greek archaeology." Read more …

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Fri, 06/03/2011 - 3:58pm by Information Architect.

"An ancient Roman shipwreck nearly 2,000 years old may once have held an aquarium onboard capable of carrying live fish, archaeologists suggest." Read more at CBSNews.com.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Thu, 06/02/2011 - 5:37pm by Information Architect.

"The State College Area School District faces controversial choices about program reductions in next year’s budget. To meet this challenge the district administration recommended phasing out the four-year Latin program at State College Area High School beginning next year. But the vox populi — students, parents, and the community — vigorously defended the importance of Latin to high school education." Read more of Stephen Wheeler's letter here: http://www.centredaily.com/2011/05/05/2691912/proposed-changes-to-latin-miss.html#ixzz1O3aMAaLD.

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Wed, 06/01/2011 - 7:05pm by Information Architect.

Pages

Latest Stories

Calls for Papers
Classical Representations in Popular Culture
Calls for Papers
Call for Lightning Papers: Classics and Civic Activism
Calls for Papers
Seneca 2020. International Conference

© 2019, Society for Classical Studies Privacy Policy