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Donald Crummey (1941 – 2013)

Donald Crummey, Professor Emeritus in the Department of History, taught at the University of Illinois from 1973 until his retirement in 2005. He passed away on August 16, 2013. Widely regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on Ethiopian history, Don helped to build, alongside his long-time colleague and close friend Charles Stewart, an internationally recognized African History program in the department. He also served as director of the University’s African Studies Program from 1984 to 1994. As a scholar, he authored two major monographs and edited projects on modes of production, land, and banditry in Africa, as well as a series of articles and book chapters on Ethiopia that dealt with such themes as modernization, violence, prophecy, ethnicity, agriculture, and religion. Over the course of his life, Don produced an extraordinary body of work.

In 1962, shortly after completing his B.A. at the University of Toronto and beginning seminary training, Don met Lorraine Legge at a Student Christian Movement project in Edmonton; they married two years later. In between, he spent nine months in Kenya working on a World Student Christian Federation service program, where he met an Ethiopian priest who kindled his interest in Ethiopian history. He enrolled as a doctoral student in 1964 at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, where he completed his Ph.D. in 1967 on the role of Christian missions in nineteenth-century Ethiopia under the supervision of Richard Gray. Don and his young family eagerly moved to Addis Ababa in 1967, where he would teach at Emperor Haile Selassie I University until 1973, leaving just months before the country’s dramatic revolution. Recruited to Illinois in 1973 for a replacement teaching contract, Don eventually secured a permanent position in 1978, where he would remain for the rest of his career.

In 1987 Don won the Distinguished Teaching Award of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He particularly made his mark mentoring Ph.D. students in African History. He is survived by his wife, Lorraine, his children Rebecca, Naomi, and Matthew, and five grandchildren, Zoey, Siobhan, Valentin, Willa, and Inigo.

For complete version see “In Memoriam: Donald Crummey (1941-2013)” by Professor James Brennan, UIUC Department of History Spring 2014 newsletter– http://www.history.illinois.edu/news/newsletters/