Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Loss of Clayton Holaday

Ardis and I have received word of the death of Clayton Holaday, long-time professor in the English Department, on February 14. He was 90. Clayt’s area was American literature and his special focus the American Renaissance. He came in 1956 and retired in 1980–a span of service that included both very good and very fraught times for both the English Department and Western. I was his colleague during both eras and found Clayt to be a balance wheel in the department, a voice of sense combining good principles and realism. He was kind and responsive but could be incisive in his judgments, generally offered with his trademark smile. I always felt that he managed to be both demanding and understanding with his students. In my four years as associate chair and scheduler, during which there were far too few “good” assignments to parcel out, I never heard a complaint from my very senior colleague Clayt. Along with other English Department colleagues in the 1950s-60s Clayt contributed his administrative talents to the university; he helped direct the Student Financial Aid Office.

Cremation has taken place. Clayt’s wife Eileen and his four children survive him; his daughter Kate tells me the family will set a time for an informal memorial gathering this spring or summer: “He wanted it to be when it gets warm.” A brief obituary is available on the Web at
–Larry Syndergaard

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