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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

In Memorium: Kurth Sprague, American Studies Professor Emeritus 1934-2007

Bill Stott, Professor Emeritus of American Studies and English remembers former American Studies Professor

Posted: March 29, 2007

Among the qualities that made him such a special teacher were his fearlessness in expressing enthusiasm for good student work—in fact, good work done by anyone (no academic reserve for him)—his gentleness, his sense of humor and explosive laughter, and his reverence for and encouragement of clear prose. A master of prose himself, he saw no reason that others shouldn't become as competent as he, and he was willing to do all the coaching students would work to take in.

He was a close friend of AMS faculty and staff—very much one of our team. When Bob Crunden died suddenly in 1999, Janice Bradley Garrett, our Administrative Associate, arranging how we dealt with death just as she did our teaching lives, had him MC the memorial service.

A great bear of a man, enthusiast and life-lover, Kurth was also, as I knew him, a cynic who saw the truth behind most shams—but a cynic of such sweet heart, that, knowing the truth, he did his best to protect those of us who shouldn't see it—even at the cost of his having to play the straight man. If he was Falstaff, as others have suggested, he was the gentleman Falstaff never was.

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