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Professor's accomplishments noted in posthumous honors


Northwest Arkansas Times

Posted on Sunday, January 11, 2004

The Whitehead family has strong ties to Old Main at the University of Arkansas.

The late professor James Whitehead?s first office was in the campus ? signature building. Its meeting hall, Giffels Auditorium, embraced both a Whitehead marriage and a memorial service for the late professor.

Old Main brought the family together once again Saturday as they joined state Reps. Marilyn Edwards, D-Fayetteville, and Sarah Agee, R-Prairie Grove, for the reading of a resolution honoring Whitehead for his accomplishments. "He instructed in so many ways," Edwards said. "He was a writer, a poet. He was everything a university [professor] should be."

Whitehead died unexpectedly Aug. 15, 2003, at the age of 67.

He taught creative writing at the university from 1965 to 1999, and after his retirement, he retained an office and assisted the school with grant proposals.

Whitehead founded the creative writing program at the UA along with Miller Williams and William Harrison.

His publications included four books of poetry, "Domains, "" Local Men," "Actual Size" and "Near at Hand," and a novel, "Joiner," which was on The New York Times' Noteworthy Books of the Year list in 1971. His literary awards included a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction and a Robert Frost Fellowship in poetry. "It's wonderful," Phil Whitehead said of his father's legacy being honored Saturday. "We all realized how hard a worker he was, and he helped build one of the best creative writing departments."

The proclamation noted Whitehead's "keen intellect, a firm sense of justice on many issues, and a fully formed ferocity on a broad range of thought."

It also included a statement expressing the 84 th General Assembly's sympathy to the family and friends and offered thanks for his dedication to family, community and church.

Following the proclamation presentation, the family recalled memories of their patriarch.

Gen Whitehead, the professor's widow, spoke about the outpouring of appreciation shown for her husband at the funeral service.

Former students and colleagues traveled from several states to Fayetteville for the funeral services, she said. "He loved teaching here, and we have always loved Fayetteville," she said.

January 20, 2004 in Articles | Permalink


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