In Memory: Emeritus Professor of History Jack Culpepper | St. Lawrence University President's Office

In Memory: Emeritus Professor of History Jack Culpepper

To: The University Community

From: President William L. Fox

Date: January 4, 2017

It saddens me personally to write today that Jack Culpepper died at the end of the year.

Jack Culpepper, emeritus professor of history, died December 30, 2016, in Tallahassee, Florida, though he lived in Canton until the last couple of years. A legendary and influential member of the faculty, Jack taught at St. Lawrence from 1964 until his retirement in 1999.

A native of Georgia, Jack graduated from the University of Florida and earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University, where he occasionally taught classes, even while serving on the St. Lawrence faculty.

His energy and depth of interest about every dimension of Russian history, language and literature were contagious. His courses in Russian history were immensely popular on campus, though sometimes viewed as intimidating for their rigor. It was not unusual for his classes to include auditors, which meant that the room was at times so crowded some students sat before an open door in the hallway.  Jack was also known on campus as a compassionate counselor of students facing the uncertainty of their draft status in the days of the Vietnam War.

Jack was utterly devoted to students and a life of the mind. His self-discipline was a visible and fixed feature of the campus’s daily rhythms, almost as regular as the chapel bells. Everyone knew just when to expect Jack at the library. He was consistently prompt in his evening stroll downtown to get dinner in a local restaurant. In my own time, the story circulated among students that Jack had run short of shelf space in his house, so kept books stored in the refrigerator. He was a man of simple needs and unpretentious character, a life of quiet joy and easy friendships. Jack Culpepper touched a student generation like a flame that perpetually warmed and lighted for a lifetime. St. Lawrence would have been a different place for so many without Jack’s presence.

He is survived by two sisters and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. A graveside service was scheduled in Oakland Cemetery in Tallahassee on January 4.

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