UPDATED with memorial service information below.
You may have been wondering where the sardonic, spicy cowgirl Historiann has been this long holiday season. For that matter, I have too. My one and only New Year’s resolution–now that my book is well and truly in production–was to get back on the horse and find my blogging voice again. But the fact of the matter is that I’m grieving two colleagues who died in close succession, so I haven’t felt like putting on Historiann’s trademark sass. If you care to read on, I’d like to tell you a little bit about my late friends, and why their deaths have made such a big hole in my heart.
The first, Andrew Cayton, died December 17 in Columbus, Ohio. You may have read about him over at the Junto blog, which published a moving series of testimonies to his importance as a scholar of the early American republic and mentor to junior scholars. We met at the start of my career, when I found myself living in Oxford, Ohio and commuting to the University of Dayton. Drew and his wife Mary Kupiec Cayton were tremendous friends and mentors to me at a time when I needed a reality check as well as some letters of recommendation to get the heck out of that job. A model scholar, Drew was incredibly accomplished but always happy to extend the ladder down to help others on their way, as the remembrances over at the Junto demonstrate. I’m sure his example informs a great deal of what I’ve tried to here on this blog. So there’s a good lesson for you, friends: generosity and compassion gets paid forward, as does hostility and competitiveness, so be kind and try to help.
The other death is even more shocking and close-at-hand. My colleague in the History department of Colorado State University, Jennifer Fish-Kashay, died Sunday January 3 of a heart attack in Fort Collins, Colorado. She was only 49, and leaves behind a widower and two young children. Jennifer was a historian of late eighteenth and nineteenth century Hawaii who wrote about early contact and conflict between native Hawaiians and Anglo-American merchants and missionaries, and who taught courses in the early U.S. Republic and Jacksonian America. Jennifer was also trained in material culture and museum studies, so in our department she was central to the training and advising of our public history graduate students. Continue reading