Passing on of Prof. Donald Crummey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
Prof. Donald Crummey has passed on. He died on Friday, 16 August 2013. Prof. Donald Crummey was Professor Emeritus of History and former Director of the Center for African Studies. He passed peacefully yesterday evening (Friday, 16 August), surrounded by family and friends. The announcement was made by Professor Eyamba Bokamba. With characteristic strength and dignity, Don fought a struggle against cancer.
Orof. Crummey was the most sought after adviser in PhD in African Studies because he was knowledgeable, intelligent and friendly. His office was always open. As a colleague, scholar, mentor, and friend, Don left his mark on every aspect of our lives. He had a big heart and an easy smile, for everyone. Don will be missed by many of us who came to regard him as a friend and mentor. We know that the Center for African Studies and the University of Illinois are mourning this iconic figure, who was the former Director of Center for African Studies, a man who contributed magnificently to its life. He will be sorely missed on many continents. Prof. Maurice Amutabi, Prof. Wudu Kassu, Prof. Joy Williams-Black, Prof. Abdulai Iddrisu, Dr Peter Kagwanja, are among some of the former PhD students and mentees of Prof. Crummey.
Prof. Donald Crummey, (fondly called Don by students and colleagues) was a great mentor. Prof. Crummey recruited me to the University of Illinois, and was the advisor for my PhD dissertation which he supervised meticulously. I first met Don in 1994 when I was at the University of Florida, Gainesville on a Ford Foundation fellowship. Since then he became a lifelong friend. It is largely as a result of his support that I got a Fulbright Scholarship to study for my PhD at the University of Illinois, USA. He taught like no one else, and made learning and graduate work enjoyable. We always celebrated major holiday days at his home with his family, including Thanksgiving and Independence Day. He liked to use his pencil in marking students’ work and hated doing academic violence on students. Don would call you and visit your house if he sensed that you were not making progress on your dissertation. He would assist in putting many students back on focus. He published many books and made sure that his students knew how it is done. His most famous book is Land and Society in the Christian Kingdom of Ethiopia.
Don’s best friend Prof. Taddesse Tamrat (author of Church and State in Ethiopia) passed away on May 21 2013 in Chicago, USA. Their friendship started when Prof. Crummey taught in Ethiopia in the 1960s and continued long after the Revolution in 1974 which led to the departure of Crummey from Ethiopia to the USA. Tamrat was visiting professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for many years.It sad to see these two academic giants pass on within months of each other.
Don leaves us a remarkable legacy: a life lived well, marked by a selfless generosity to his students and peers. A funeral service will be held on Wednesday, 21 August, 2013 at 3:30 PM at the St. John the Devine Episcopal Chapel, located at 1011 S. Wright Street in Champaign. Please forward this information about the funeral service to people who may be interested in attending.
We extend our deepest sympathies to Don’s family, especially to Lorraine, his partner in life. Arrangements for visitation and funeral services will be announced as soon as possible. In the meantime, feel free to call the Rev. Rebecca Crummey, Don’s and Loraine’s first-born, at (217) 328-2847.
Posted by Don’s former student:
Prof. Maurice Amutabi, PhD former student of Prof. Donald Crummey
Director of Research,
The Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi