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In Memoriam: Professor Tony Arthur

Date: 01/05/2010

Professor Emeritus Richard Anthony (Tony) Arthur passed away on Thursday, December 17, 2009. Equally devoted to his scholarly activities and to the Department of English, Tony Arthur enjoyed an extraordinary career both during his more than thirty years at California State University, Northridge and following his 2002 retirement.

Born on January 20, 1937 in Sharon, PA, Tony Arthur earned his B.A. at Allegheny College, his M.A. at Pennsylvania State University, and his PhD at SUNY Stony Brook. Additionally, he was a U.S. Army veteran, who attended the Military Language School at Monterey and subsequently served in Korea near the DMZ. 

During his long association with CSUN, Tony inaugurated a successful internship program for professional writing and authored six books on a range of historical and literary subjects. Known for being generous with his time, he embraced departmental duties willingly—and repeatedly. These duties included but were not limited to numerous stints on personnel committees and search committees, regular engagement with curriculum development, active support of new technologies, and the promotion of cross-disciplinary interactions. In his dedication to academic service and professional achievement, Tony was truly exemplary. 

Nor did his commitments diminish following his retirement. First, he oversaw the publication of Literary Feuds: A Century of Celebrated Quarrels—from Mark Twain to Tom Wolfe (2002); next, Clashes of Will: Great Confrontations that Have Shaped Modern America (co-authored with John Broesamle, 2004); and then Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair (2006). This latter book, a critical biography of the progressive social reformer Sinclair, who was best-known for his muckraking exposé of the meatpacking industry in the 1906 novel The Jungle, received widespread national and international acclaim, and proved instrumental in Tony being awarded CSUN’s Preeminent Scholarly Publication Award (2006-07). At the time of his death, from cancer, Tony was completing another historical work, this one on the Mexican Expedition of Confederate General Joseph Shelby, which Random House will publish in 2010.

Those who knew Tony from back “in the old days” may recall his two Fulbrights to Hungary or his Senior Fulbright fellowship to Germany—but they also will remember the disarming stories he liked to tell about the cross-country trips he would take with his family in a well-worn VW van. They will recall his love of the outdoors and of tennis. And they will cherish the memory of a loyal, compassionate friend.

Tony leaves behind his wife Carolyn, and his children Reagan (Scott) and Owen (Karen), along with grandchildren Nell, Duncan, Olivia, and Jane. An on-campus memorial service is planned for January 16, 2010, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. at the University Club.


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