Funeral Thursday for English's Tate

8-12-98 -- A funeral service will be held Thursday, Aug. 13, at 10:30 a.m. in St. Mary's Chapel for retired Assoc. Prof. Cecil F. Tate (English), a scholar of American Studies who died Aug. 8 at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta at the age of 67.

Arts and Sciences Dean J. Robert Barth, SJ, will preside at the service. Former students of Tate's will offer the readings, including a passage from his beloved William Faulkner.

A specialist in Southern literature, Tate had been living in the town of Stone Mountain in his native Georgia since his retirement from teaching.

"He was best known as a very gifted teacher," recalled Fr. Barth. "He really endeared himself to several generations of students with his passion for literature and his openness to them."

A member of the English faculty at Boston College in 1969, Tate formally retired last year, though ill health had prevented him from teaching for the past several years.

His 1973 book The Search for a Method in American Studies became required reading in the field as one of the first book-length critiques of the ideas behind the American Studies movement.

"It was a pioneering work in that it came when the field was just beginning to be theorized," said colleague Assoc. Prof. Andrew Von Hendy (English).

Tate was born in Decatur, Ga. and was a graduate of the University of Maryland and Emory University, where he received his doctorate.

Von Hendy offered an anecdote he said gave a fair measure of Tate's devotion as a scholar: When as an undergraduate philosophy student he delivered a particularly strident opinion on Immanuel Kant, Tate was taken to task by a professor who told him to keep quiet until he had read everything the philosopher had written. "Cecil did go off and read everything Kant had written," said Von Hendy. "That was quite a feat -- and very characteristic of him."

Tate remained an avid reader. He was also a Civil War buff and a veteran of service with the 101st Airborne Division in the Korean War.

He leaves his wife, Nan (Pickard); his mother, Evora (Foster) of Newburyport; a son, Guy, of Fayetteville, N.C., and three grandchildren.

A former resident of Newburyport, he will be buried there in Oak Hill Cemetery.

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